School division in Winnipeg buys 75K respirator masks

WINNIPEG — A school division in Winnipeg has purchased 75,000 N95 respirator masks for its staff.

The Seven Oaks School Division said this purchase means it can give a mask a day to its entire staff until the end of the year.

Brian O’Leary, the superintendent of the school division, said these masks provide some added protection due to the increased risk of variants of concern.

“Schools have been operating safely and really well,” he said.

“Our staff’s done an incredible job, so it’s just one more little thing we can do to add a bit of protection for them, to keep them at work.”

O’Leary said this is the school division’s way of showing the staff that it values them.

“We provided five additional sick days at the start of the year. We’ve tried our best to communicate clearly to staff throughout, provide schools with resources,” he said.

“We’re now 30 weeks into the school year, 10 more to go. We hope to get through the school year with schools still operating and serving kids.”

O’Leary noted he’d also like to see teachers and staff moved up on the vaccination eligibility list.

“We think that a lot of the high-risk population is now vaccinated,” he said.

“Teachers are coming to work every day. Maybe they should get some priority and some acknowledgment.”

Schools received their first delivery of masks on Thursday.

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