Parents rally against mask mandate for B.C. schools

Dozens of parents rallied in Abbotsford on Wednesday, upset about the new mask mandate in B.C. schools.

Some parents carried signs that read, “Don’t mask our children” and “My child needs to breathe fresh air."

“We are not here for an anti-mask rally. That’s not what this is,” said rally organizer and Abbotsford mom Lisa Brandsma.

“This is to protect our children in the school system.”

There has been confusion over new mandates surrounding masks in the classroom, but the provincial COVID-19 Health and Safety Guidelines now say that students in grades 4 through 12 must wear masks in all indoor areas. This includes when students are at their desks and on school buses.

“We do not want our children masked because the amount of bacteria and carbon dioxide in these masks all day, for a six-hour stretch is too long for anybody, let alone a child,” said Brandsma.

She says her son, who is in Grade 4, isn’t comfortable wearing a mask and she hopes he will be exempt from the rules.

“Personally for my son, he is very claustrophobic. He has an extreme fear of being stuck. Even tight clothing, anything on him is too much…his anxiety goes through the roof,” she explained.

Parent Donna Stade, who also took part in the rally, says the mask mandate for children is “something that is being forced upon them to do that they don’t want to do. I don’t feel that that’s right.”

She’s concerned that her Grade 5 son is being pressured to do something he doesn’t agree with.

“I feel like it’s covering up the voice that our children have," Stade told CTV News. "I feel it’s also teaching them it’s OK to hide behind a mask and that…their voice isn’t important and I feel their voice is important."

In Abbotsford public schools, families are being encouraged to have their child wear a mask Wednesday and Thursday as they adjust to the change for Grade 4 and 5 students.

A letter sent to parents says the updated mask guidelines will come into full effect on Tuesday, April 6.