Anna Evans looks up from her first writing assignment on the first day of school at Horse Lake Elementary. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

Student safety comes first

As children go back to school keep them safe and healthy is paramount

School is back in session in the South Cariboo.

Students returned to classrooms across School District 27 Wednesday – with most of them wearing masks. It was not the outcome we’d hoped for over the past year and a half as we endured mask mandates, stay-at-home orders, and watched bit by bit, restrictions were slowly relaxed.

The arrival of the vaccine was, perhaps naively, hoped by many to be the end of the pandemic and all related orders and restrictions.

That’s proven not to be the case.

The rise of the COVID-19 Delta variant has breathed new life into the embers of this pandemic. While 100 Mile House continues to remain fortunate that the spread is occurring primarily in larger communities, we still need to be vigilant – especially in elementary schools.

Those under the age of 12 have not had the opportunity to be vaccinated, which leaves them especially vulnerable to the virus. With most distancing rules relaxed and no cohort system in place, masks are one of the only real defences these students and their teachers have left in place.

It’s probably the simplest request we can make for the sake of public health and a sign that things are inching towards some sense of normalcy for students and teachers. Putting up with masks for a few months more, for their sake, is more than worth it.

Just as important – or maybe even more so – is the need for all residents, whether they have children in school or not, to be mindful of their potential virus-spreading activities. The majority of COVID exposures recorded by students in B.C. last year took place outside of the classroom, according to health officials.

A community-wide effort is needed – no matter what your beliefs are regarding vaccines and regulations – to ensure that our youngsters stay healthy this coming year. Likewise, keeping our community healthy as we head into the fall and winter months will help our hard-working teachers with their enormous task of educating during a pandemic – for the second consecutive year.

These kids are our future. With school back in session, it’s time to step up and take action. Wear a mask. And don’t forget: speed limits are strictly enforced in school zones. It’s a good reminder for all of us to slow down and think about what’s important.

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