In circumstances where it appears administration is not appropriately enforcing the Public Health Officer’s Order, including the use of exemption criteria, we recommend the following steps be taken: 

  1. Ensure the concern is documented. Best practice would be to ensure this documentation is in writing (email) and includes the principal as well as a Staff Rep and Health & Safety rep. If there has been a verbal conversation, follow up via email for documentation using the term “As per our conversation…” Refer to the Order to be specific about what is being requested and where it is in the PHO Order.  
  2. If the concern remains or there is no response, bring this forward to JOHS committee. This does not need to wait for a regularly scheduled meeting, and one can be requested to deal with emerging COVID-19 Health & Safety issue. Again, if there’s a verbal conversation, document it in email for a clear record trail. 
  3. If the meeting of JOHS does not bring resolution, this should be communicated to the principal. Again, if verbal conversation, document this in an email afterwards for a clear record trail. 
  4. If the final follow-up does not result in resolution and alignment with the PHO Order, contact WorkSafeBC with your prepared trail of documentation.  WorkSafeBC Prevention Information Line Phone toll-free (Canada): 1-888-621-7233 (1-888-621-SAFE). 

Take note:  

  • The mask requirement is an Order by the Public Health Officer, not just a guideline. 
  • The PHO Order on Face Coverings can be found here.  
  • An Order is enforceable under WorkSafeBC 
  • The Order currently references grades 4–12 however, it is being updated to show that it applies to K–12.  
  • Page 7: Exemptions for visitors 
  • Page 10: Exemptions for students  
  • Page 11: Exemptions for staff 
  • Page 12: A school can have additional requirements in relation to face coverings. Reference: “Does not prevent further requirements” 

When a concern is reported to WorkSafeBC, they will look to the employer’s Communicable Disease Plan which should be updated to reflect any current PHO orders regarding Responding to Elevated Risk and the Communicable Disease Prevention Guide.  

WorkSafe will always want to know what steps have been taken. It’s crucially important to document every interaction or step taken. Every conversation should have a follow-up email which includes a record of times and dates of conversations with notes. Keep a log of phone calls.  

Please contact Gavin Slade-Kerr at at any point for support with these issues. 

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