Students in Quebec high schools will be able to unmask in class soon after the provincial government ruled yesterday that because of high vaccination rates amongst teens in the province, high-school students will be allowed to unmask in class, Quebec Health Minister Christian Dube confirmed yesterday.
The mask mandate for high-school students went into effect in 2020 in red zones in Quebec, and the government sought to remove it for the 2020-2021 school year, ultimately leaving it in place due to concerns over the fourth wave and more easily-transmissible Delta variant.
Dubé cited an epidemiological situation that was mostly under control for being able to loosen restrictions.
Masks, however, will still be mandatory in common areas or on school buses, authorities confirmed.
Elementary students, however, must continue to wear masks in class, due to children under 12 not being allowed to have been vaccinated.
However, grade school students — who have yet to be vaccinated against COVID-19 — will have to continue wearing face coverings in the classroom.
Officials say they are ready to move ahead with vaccinating kids between the ages of five and 11 but are still awaiting Health Canada’s approval of a COVID-19 vaccine for that age group.
“Our objective: our youth — one dose before Christmas,” the head of the province’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign, Daniel Paré, said.
Quebec Public Health director Dr. Horacio Arruda encouraged parents who might have concerns over getting their children vaccinated to speak to their doctor.
In other COVID-19 news, the ban on dancing and karaoke performances in nightclubs have been lifted, and clients no longer have to remain seated at their table. Karaoke is also being giving the greenlight, provided the singer is at least two metres away from spectators, is wearing a mask or is separated by a physical barrier.
The announcement came one day after restaurants and bars were once more allowed to operate at full capacity.
Dubé said the November 15 implementation date will give health officials a two-week window to see what impact the lifting of capacity restrictions will have on the epidemiological situation.
Arruda said that while he expects to see a rise in new infections, it will not have a significant impact on hospitalizations due to people being vaccinated.
Arruda said that while those who are vaccinated can still get sick from and transmit the virus, the risk of experiencing complications requiring treatment in hospital is small.
Marc Lalonde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Iori:wase