When school returns in September, mask usage in indoor spaces will be mandatory for all teachers and the vast majority of students.
The announcement was made on Tuesday morning by Minister of Education Jennifer Whiteside, who was joined by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.
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Whiteside confirmed that students would be returning for full-time, in-person learning. School staff that work with students from K-12, and students that are in grade 4 or above, will be required to wear masks while indoors.
“BC was one of the few jurisdictions in Canada to keep schools open and safe last year thanks to the monumental efforts of everyone in the education system,” she said. “The precautions we are announcing today allow students to continue learning in school with safeguards in place, so they have every opportunity to achieve their best.”
This measure will include areas such as classrooms and school buses. Mask usage while indoors will be recommended for students between K to 3 but will not be mandatory.
Extracurricular activities such as sports, arts, and music will also take place. Whiteside notes that regional measures can supplement these province-wide measures. In addition to the province-wide measures announced on Tuesday, regional measures will also apply when in effect. Orders can also be used for specific schools, groups of schools, or a full regional district.
The provincial government adds that there are approximately 1,900 K-12 schools in BC. Of those schools, 40 of them temporarily closed due to COVID-19 over the 2020-21 school year.