Mandatory masks return to B.C., including schools and universities

·2 min read

The mask mandate for indoor public spaces is returning to B.C. as of tomorrow, public health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said today.

“As we move into the fall, we’re starting to congregate more in indoor public spaces, and right now we know that this virus is transmitting in some of those indoor public spaces,” said Henry.

She said this is a temporary order and will be re-assessed once the B.C. vaccine card system—announced yesterday—is fully implemented.

The mask mandate will also apply to schools. Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside said all staff, as well as students in Grade 4 and up, must wear a mask in indoor spaces—including classrooms and school buses.

Whiteside said as of this week, 72 per cent of 12-17 year olds have received one dose of vaccine and 57 per cent have received two. Students in Kindergarten through Grade 3 will be encouraged to wear masks, but they will not be mandatory.

She added that 44 of the 60 school districts in B.C. have upgraded their HVAC systems, and every school is working on improving ventilation. A notification system for people who may be contacts of someone with COVID-19 is still being worked on with the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

For post-secondary schools, Advanced Education Minister Anne Kang said the mask mandate also applies, as well as the proof of vaccination requirement in some settings. Students living in student housing must be vaccinated, as well as students who want to go to a campus pub or gym, play varsity sports or attend indoor club meetings.

Kang said colleges and universities can adopt their own vaccine policies, or ask for proof of vaccination that goes beyond the provincial mandate, if they choose.

Henry added that health sciences students must be vaccinated because of practicums in healthcare settings, including long-term care.

Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel

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