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Alberta Teachers Association weighs in on mandatory masks

Last Updated Aug 5, 2020 at 10:29 am MDT

Rear view of large group of students raising their arms to answer the question on a class at elementary school. (CREDIT: iStock @rdmbc)

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – Paper, pencil, lunch and now a face mask.

That will soon be the normal in Alberta schools after the United Conservative government announced mandatory masks for grades 4-12 students and staff.

The Alberta Teachers Association is weighing in on the province’s decision and while the group welcomes the news, President Jason Schilling told Breakfast Television that it falls short.

“We still need to talk about class sizing, we still need to talk about cohorting and social distancing and the funding around the things that are going to be needed to ensure that schools are indeed safe for teachers, students and their families.”

WATCH: Masks mandatory for staff, students in grades 4-12 in Alberta schools

The decision to mandate face masks has been met with mixed reviews with the Opposition NDP agreeing that more needs to be done to protect students.

A Medicine Hat teacher went to Facebook to share details of an order of masks with messaging that suggests the face coverings don’t help limit the spread of COVID-19.

Schilling said he would need to speak with the teacher before jumping to conclusions.

“I just think it’s unfortunate that in society masks have become so polarized and politicized. It’s a measure for us to ensure safety for students and teachers in the classroom.”

He added any staff member who wishes to not comply with the mask rule should speak with their school board directly.

“This is a public health order from the Chief Medical Officer of Alberta. It’s something we have to look at and teachers need to be supported by their school districts in implementing this as we move forward.”

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange confirmed Tuesday all students and staff will be supplied with two reusable masks.

Those masks are required to be worn in all common areas such as hallways but not in the classroom where students are working and can be properly distanced.