In an attempt to limit the spread of COVID-19 in BC schools, the mandatory mask policy now applies to K-3 BC students.
Starting on Monday, all BC students will be required to wear masks when inside a school building, including while at their desks and on buses.
Initially, masks were only required to be worn by students in grades 4-12 and all faculty members, the policy remains in place for faculty members.
Provincial Health Officer, Dr.Bonnie Henry says this policy will help minimize the transmission of both COVID-19 and other viruses in school settings.
“These measures will also assist in stopping other respiratory illnesses that we’re starting to see as well and we know that made a difference last year. Right now we’re starting to see things like Enteroviruses and Antroviruses that cause those common colds and we’re also seeing a bit of Parainfluenza,” she stated.
These measures build on the existing K-12 health and safety guidelines, which include daily health checks, hand washing, staying home when sick, and improved ventilation systems.
She adds that transmission among these age groups is higher in areas with lower vaccination uptake, especially among children that aren’t eligible for vaccination.
“The data I showed on Tuesday shows that in that older age group, the 12-17, we’re now starting to see leveling off. We haven’t seen transmission in the staff in school settings as much as we were seeing last year, so this tells us the immunization program is working,” she added.
Dr. Henry notes COVID-19 tends to be a mostly mild disease in children, but the province still needs to take the necessary measures to keep children safe.
There haven’t been any COVID-19 deaths in children since last year when one infant and one toddler passed away.
Earlier this week, the province also announced potential school exposures will be listed on the health authority website that the school is located.