Prince Albert schools to have masking requirements in September

Catholic, public and French school divisions mandating mask use following Tuesday’s provincial update

The Saskatchewan Rivers Public School Division met face-to-face for the first time since March on Monday, June 22./Michael Oleksyn Daily Herald

Local School divisions will have mask mandates for students and staff when kids go back to school in September.

With word from the province Tuesday that mask use will be a part of Level 2 of the return plan, and with Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab saying that schools could start in the second level as opposed to the first, local school divisions have confirmed that mask use will be in place when schools reopen.

According to a document obtained by CBC News, masks are set to be mandatory for Grades 4-12 in the province’s French-language schools, operated by Conseil des écoles fransaskoises (CEF).

The division operates one school in Prince Albert, École Valois, which offers Kindergarten through Grade 12 instruction.

According to a CBC report, an internal staff memo obtained by Radio-Canada will see masks made mandatory for students in Grades 4-12. Parents will be responsible for providing masks and washing them regularly, the memo said. The school divisions will provide masks for staff.

Students and staff will also have their temperature checked before entering facilities and additional distancing measures will be put into place.

That memo came prior to Tuesday’s announcement.

Students will be grouped into cohorts for recess and outings, with limited contact between cohorts. All classes will be available online and students from kindergarten to Grade 3 who cannot attend school will have access to educational activities, the document said.

Other divisions have also said they will mandate some mask use.

“This is good news for us,” said Saskatchewan Rivers School Division director of education Robert Bratvold.

“We plan to have masks used by all staff, and by students in Grades 4-12. We’re still working out some of the details but that’s the essence of what we’re hoping to do.”

Bratvold said the division has been discussing mask use for the past week or two but didn’t want to step on the education ministry’s toes.

While students are welcome to bring their own, the plan is to supply masks to staff and students. Bratvold said the division is grateful that the ministry has said it will have a supply of disposable non-medical masks for schools to use, but that the division is also in the process of purchasing reusable masks for everyone and will hope to provide those as soon as they can.

While the Herald wasn’t able to connect with the Catholic school division for comment, that division’s plan already saw disposable masks for classrooms and two reusable masks supplied to each teacher for their use.

The Prince Albert Catholic School Division released their plan, over 100 pages, in early August, detailing several measures to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Saskatchewan Rivers said the next version of its plan is scheduled for an August 17 release.

“That’s our expectation,” Bratvold said.

“It will have some details on the protocol of mask use plus a whole host of other things.”

He hesitated to call the document the division’s final plan, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve.

“It’s really important to me that parents know that we’re ready to support the kids and our staff in terms of mental health, physical health and safety, and then working towards those excellent learning opportunities,” Bratvold said. “We don’t have all the final details yet but we’re ready to support students and staff when they return to school.”

According to media reports, Sask. Rivers and CEF aren’t the only ones that will mandate masking in September.

Saskatoon Catholic and public schools, Regina public schools and Prince Albert Catholic schools will also have mask mandates for many students.

For more on updated local plans, visit or see Friday’s Daily Herald.

CEF plan includes barring anyone who’s travelled out of province within last 14 days

Those measures are in addition to the ones announced in the division’s back to school plan, published in early August along with the remainder of the publicly-funded school divisions’ plans.

That plan, written in French, is 13 pages long and available through a press release released earlier this month by the province.

Like other return to school plans, it outlines enhanced sanitation and cleaning measures and sets out some of what students can expect upon their return.

The plan says that only staff and students will be allowed inside the division’s schools and that everyone must wash their hands before they can enter.

Hand sanitizers will be installed at each entrance. Handwashing will also be mandatory when returning from breaks or lunch. Lunches will need to be brought from home and will be consumed in the students’ classrooms.

Parents will not be allowed inside and should wait for their children near their vehicles. Buses will have assigned seating, and drivers will be allowed to wear PPE such as face shields so long as it doesn’t affect their ability to drive. Sneeze guards can also be used. The document recommends that bus windows be kept open when the weather allows to increase ventilation and reduce the likelihood of the virus spreading.

Other than meals, transporting personal objects between home and school will be prohibited. Each student’s personal items, including school supplies, will be identified with their name to discourage accidental sharing.

Disposable disinfectant wipes will be provided to wipe down high-touch surfaces, such as doors and light switches.

Everyone will be expected to regularly clean their workspace.

People with health conditions or compromised immunity should notify school officials of their situation and will be able to access education in a way that works for them.

The plan also said that anyone who has travelled outside of the province will be barred from the premises until they have been symptom-free for 14 days.

Unlike some back to school plans, a section is dedicated to the proper use of non-medical masks, even though the original document didn’t have any provisions for mandatory mask use aside from when staff may come into contact with bodily fluids or with a student who has developed cold and flu-like symptoms.

In those situations, gloves will also be used, and staff will be expected to wash their hands both before and after using gloves.

Glove use outside of situations where staff may come into contact with bodily fluids is neither mandated nor recommended.

For more on the CEF and its COVID-19 resources, visit