Government issues new mask mandate for all public schools

New mandate takes effect Monday 20 Sept., and remains in effect until further notice

It is now mandatory for all children over the age of 5 to wear masks in public schools.

The Ministry of Education has mandated the wearing of masks in all public schools in almost all circumstances.

In a statement released on 19 Sept., a government spokesperson said, “Effective Monday 20 September 2021, all students and staff in Government schools are expected to wear masks while riding the bus, moving through the school compound, while indoors, and while in a group setting.”

The ministry later clarified that the rule does not apply to students under the age of 5, noting that children who are unable to put on and take off masks without assistance are exempt. Also, teachers who rely on mouth cues such as lip reading for communication with students are exempt.

Children who are required to wear masks will be allowed to remove them in circumstances where they are playing outdoors, eating, or working independently at their desks.

The new mandate comes as the Ministry of Education, in conjunction with other government entities, try to suppress the spread of a COVID-19 outbreak at George Town Primary School.

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As of Saturday, 18 students had tested positive for COVID-19.

The cases were scattered across nine of the 14 classes at GTPS, and ranged from years 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.

Three adults have also tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of reported cases in connection with the outbreak to 21.

George Town Primary School remains closed, while parents, students, and staff have been placed into mandatory quarantine.

The Ministry of Education said the new mask mandate will remain in effect until further notice.

Editor’s note: This story has been changed from the original to reflect clarification by the Ministry of Education on exemptions for children under 5.

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