Masks are now required for all students in Grades 4 to 12 in B.C., the education ministry confirmed Tuesday (March 30) night.
The confirmation came after a day of confusion after an announcement made at a Monday press conference said only that the province would “support and encourage students” to wear masks.
Masks for Grade 4 to 12 students will be required in all indoor areas, including at desks and work stations and on school buses, both within and outside of their learning groups.
There are a few exceptions:
- A person who is unable to wear a mask because they do not tolerate it (for health or behavioural reasons);
- A person unable to put on or remove a mask without the assistance of another person;
- If the mask is removed temporarily for the purposes of identifying the person wearing it;
- If the mask is removed temporarily to engage in an educational activity that cannot be performed while wearing a mask (e.g. actively playing a wind instrument, high-intensity physical activity, etc.);
- If a person is eating or drinking;
- If a person is behind a barrier;
- While providing a service to a person with a disability or diverse ability (including but not limited to a hearing impairment), where visual cues, facial expressions and/or lip reading/movements are important.
Students in Kindergarten to Grade 3 are “strongly encouraged” to wear a mask indoors at all times, but it will remain a “personal or family/caregiver choice for these students, and their choices must be respected.”
In a statement, Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside said that the “strengthened mask guideline is another layer of protection” but that it is not the only thing the ministry is relying on.
“Students will be asked – daily – to use the health checker app and confirm they are not attending school if they feel unwell,” she stated. “Staff and other adults are required to complete an active daily health check prior to entering the school in line with the PHO order on workplace safety.”
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