After recently mandating masks in all public indoor spaces, in the midst of rising COVID-19 case numbers in some school districts, BC’s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry spoke again this week about why the mask mandate policy doesn’t apply to schools.
“Schools are not public spaces where we’re with a variety of different people we don’t know on a repeated basis,” she said during a press conference on Monday.
“What schools have are individual COVID safety plans that meet certain criteria, so you’re with the same people every day, you don’t have people walking in and out,” she said.
However, she added that “masks are an important part of some areas of schools, particularly when you’re in common areas, passing by people in other cohorts. I think they should encourage mask use, particularly for the adults in the school settings, and that is something that we’ve been working with them on for quite some time.”
She likened school settings to other workplaces, “where you have plans in place for how you manage your workspace, not the public areas.”
And, she added, “there are COVID safety plans that do include wearing masks in the schools.”
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Last week, Henry unveiled a new health order, making mask use mandatory in retail and indoor public spaces.
The order also applies to common public areas in workplaces or hotels, such as elevators and corridors between different work areas.
“If you are at work at your desk, you do not need to wear a mask,” says Henry. “But if you are in a shared workspace, a common space, or public space like elevators, hallways, and other common areas, you do.”
For those that work behind service counters where plexiglass is in place, you do not need to wear a mask unless there are others behind there with you.”