B.C. strengthens mask rules for middle, high school students and K-12 staff

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VICTORIA — British Columbia is expanding mask requirements in its school system.

Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside says students in middle and secondary school and staff for kindergarten through Grade 12 will be required to wear non-medical masks in all indoor areas of the school, including while in their learning groups.

Whiteside says the exceptions will be when they are sitting or standing at their seat or work station in a classroom, when there is a barrier in place or when they are eating or drinking.

Previously, students and staff were only required to wear masks in areas where interactions are not controlled, such as in hallways, libraries and on school buses.

Whiteside says that for elementary school students, wearing masks indoors remains a personal choice.

Stephanie Higginson, president of the B.C. School Trustees Association, says over 90 per cent of all public school students have returned to class, indicating the confidence families have in sending their children to schools.

Whiteside says that as the pandemic evolves, school protocols must evolve as well.

"Since September, we've learned from our experiences and worked collaboratively on how we can adapt," Whiteside says.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 4, 2021.

The Canadian Press