Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe announced a collection of new public health directives on Thursday afternoon, including requiring masks in all indoor public spaces — including Saskatchewan schools — beginning Friday.
The interim public health order now in effect requires the use of non-medical masks for students and staff in schools across the province.
Several school divisions, including the four largest in the province located in Saskatoon and Regina, already required masking in elementary and high schools.
Other schools had varying requirements on mask usage in schools before the mandate was set in place.
For example, Christ the Teacher Catholic School Division in the Yorkton area had required masks for students in Grade 6 and below, but not for students Grade 7 and above, while they were seated in classes. The Lloydminster Public School Division required masks in elementary schools, except in classrooms, but in middle and high schools masks were only a recommendation.
Masks will not be required for students under 18 playing sports or engaging in physical activity, but will be for those watching.
In an email, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health did not specify if masks are required on buses.
Unvaccinated school-age children, from day care to high school, are exempt from having to isolate if they are a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case as long as they have no symptoms and wear a face covering, the province said in a news release.
That means they can attend classes and ride a school bus even if they are considered a close contact.
The provincial health ministry did not immediately respond to a question about what ages are included in "school-age children."
The province is also recommending that school divisions implement a proof of vaccine or negative-test policy for employees.