The B.C. Government has introduced a mandatory mask policy at middle and secondary schools in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, stopped short of introducing the same rules for elementary school students.

“Our updated guidelines will now require all middle and secondary school students as well as all staff throughout K-12 to wear their non-medical mask in all areas of the school, including when they are in their learning group,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education. “For elementary students, wearing masks while at school remains a personal choice for students and their families.”

There will be a few situations that will allow students to go maskless from time to time, however.

“The only exception to this is when they are sitting or standing at their seat or workstation in a classroom, where there is a barrier in place or when they are eating or drinking,” explained Whiteside.

As well, the Province has introduced some new rules around physical education and music classes.

“High-intensity physical activity should be held outside wherever possible. Shared equipment or items like weight machines, treadmills or musical instruments can only be used if they are cleaned between use according to strict sanitation guidelines. Students using equipment or playing instruments should be spaced at least two metres apart, and masks are to be worn while singing,” said Whiteside.

The B.C. Government also announced additional funding to support students and staff through the rest of the school year.

“We are investing the second installment of $121.2-million in federal funding, which will allow schools and districts to continue to support students and staff,” said Whiteside.

The Province added that principals and vice-principals will be provided with updated COVID-19 health and safety checklists to ensure they consistently follow all guidelines.