Pupils to wear masks despite loosening of Covid restrictions
Pupils will still be expected to wear masks in classrooms to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, the health minister confirmed yesterday.
Kim Wilson said that the step helped to protect older family members in multigenerational homes.
She was speaking in the House of Assembly after MPs heard that public health measures to combat Covid-19 will cease on April 1, when only mask-wearing at indoor venues will be mandatory.
Susan Jackson, the One Bermuda Alliance spokeswoman for education in the House, asked if any accommodation would be made for schoolchildren “wearing masks in the classroom all day”.
Ms Wilson said: “The ability to transmit the virus, which does spread through air droplets, is heavily mitigated through the use of masks.
“Unfortunately, here in Bermuda, we do have children that live in multigenerational households and we are still concerned that the removal of masks will cause challenges as it relates to our inability to decrease transmission.”
The health minister added: “We are needing to try to protect not just the children but the great-grandparents that are also living with them.”
She said: “Notwithstanding that, there’s still quite a lot of discussion on this topic, there’s still substantial overwhelming evidence to support the fact that mask-wearing does reduce transmission of Covid very, very well.
“We have to do what we can to protect.
“Those are discussions that will continue but at the point where we are now, it’s still being recommended by the Chief Medical Officer and the technical team here and the epidemiologists that masks must continue to be worn indoors as well as in our school system, so as to protect and minimise and mitigate against transmission.”
Michael Dunkley, the shadow health minister, asked if there was a meeting set up between Ms Wilson and a campaign group that was concerned about children wearing masks in schools.
Ms Wilson said last month that she believed a meeting with Us For Them Bermuda could be arranged.
She told the House today: “I've been liaising with, I suspect it’s the head of that group, and she has invited me to collect the data that we’re relying on with respect to the masks.
“That information is being collected and I will forward it to them and we will make an arrangement for a meeting subsequent to that.”
Ms Wilson also said that a question from Mr Dunkley about future testing requirements for schoolchildren would have to be directed to the Minister of Education.