Dr. Deena Hinshaw says health officials in the province are looking at evidence from around the world with respect to mandatory masking in schools.

With students set to return to classrooms in the fall, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health says her team is interested in the lessons that can be learned from jurisdictions where masks have been mandatory.

Hinshaw says young children may be more likely to touch their face or fiddle with their mask during the day. “I don’t know if we have enough evidence yet to understand how young children will potentially react to wearing masks. We know that touching one’s face, especially with unwashed hands is a significant risk factor for picking up the virus if there is someone who’s infectious in that environment.”

Hinshaw says it’s important to try to think about all angles and potential consequences before mandating masks in schools. She notes if kids are uncomfortable and fiddle with a mask during the day they could inadvertently catch the virus.

“Those are the kinds of things we are trying to get a better understanding of,” says Hinshaw. “We are looking at the evidence on masking at this time to try to understand what current evidence is telling us.”

The Alberta government announced last week that students will be returning to schools across the province in September with “near normal” operations with public health protocols in place.