High school principal Brian Foy was overruled by the Boundary School District (SD51) after he heightened face mask protocols inside Grand Forks Secondary School in the first week after the holiday break.
“I asked all students to wear face masks when they couldn’t keep physically distanced after we got back to school on Monday, Jan.4,” Foy told The Gazette.
Foy discussed the added precautions with staff Monday morning, after which he said staff were very much in favour. “I went around from class to class to give students the opportunity to discuss their concerns with me,” he explained.
SD 51 told Foy to “roll back” the precaution on Tuesday, Jan. 5. “It was made clear to me that I’d stepped beyond my authority; that I needed to first run those past the district.” The face mask protocol at GFSS returned to what it had been before the break on Wednesday morning, Jan. 6, Foy said.
Acting superintendent Anna Lautard said Foy had made “an internal decision” that hadn’t changed the district’s pre-existing COVID-safety protocols. “There was nothing to rescind, because the actual guidelines had not been changed,” acting Superintendent Anna Lautard told The Gazette Monday, Jan. 11.
Lautard said the district had received a number of phone calls by concerned parents starting Tuesday, Jan. 5, one day after she officially took over from Superintendent Ken Minette, who is on a medical leave of absence. Lautard withheld comment about the district’s instructions to Principal Foy, saying only that he’d made an “internal decision” that “wasn’t how we go about making changes to our safety guidelines.”
The district’s COVID-19 protocols are guided by public health orders and the ministry of education. It is district policy to inform parents and staff of any changes to these guidelines before they go in place, she continued, she added.
“This was just an internal decision that did not get communicated to parents, staff and students in the way that we have been communicating our safety guidelines,” she said.
Lautard, who is also the Principal of Big White Community School, said she was confident the district has sound safety protocols in place. The Interior Health Authority hasn’t confirmed exposures of COVID-19 in any SD 51 school as of Monday, Jan. 11, according to Lautard.