A new petition against mandatory masks in Alberta is picking up steam. It’s being hosted by our friends at the Alberta Institute. As of Wednesday morning, the petition — which is less than a week old — has garnered nearly 15,000 signatures. It reads:
“In recent days, we have seen school boards across Alberta – including Calgary, Edmonton, and Medicine Hat - announce that they will be implementing mandatory masks for all students, teachers, and staff for the upcoming school year.
Some have even announced they will be requiring children as young as 5 to wear masks, something that wasn't even required at the peak of the pandemic last year!
This is all despite a mask mandate *not* being part of the official advice to Alberta schools from Alberta's Chief Medical Officer of Health.
That's right, Chief Medical Officer of Health, Deena Hinshaw, recommends that staff caring for an ill student, or a student feeling sick and waiting to go home should wear a mask, but does not recommend mandating masks for all students.
While acknowledging that, at least under current rules, school boards are permitted to implement mandates, she did not actually recommend they do so.
She also expressed concern about severe harm to children's social and emotional outcomes and urged that any requirements balance off both the potential benefits and the potential costs.
We agree with Deena Hinshaw's conclusion and call on government decision-makers to consider the significant detrimental effects that mandatory masking has upon students as they develop and learn.
The early years of education are critical to building language, pronunciation, and phonological skills.
This is especially true for children working on overcoming speech delays or expressive and receptive language disabilities and for ESL students learning English.”
What makes this petition unique is that it is being led by teachers. And joining me on the show today, in an interview we recorded Tuesday after school, is one of the teachers behind the petition. His name is Russell Hillier — yes, he’s Randy’s son — and he is a Calgary area educator who won’t stay silent about what he sees happening to kids, as school boards bring in mask mandates for another year and parents are shut out of the conversation.