In a move to “help ensure a consistent province-wide approach,” the BC government has released operational guidelines around the use of masks for K-12 students.
On Monday, the province said that under the updated health and safety guidelines, masks will be required for staff, middle and secondary students in high-traffic areas such as buses and in common areas such as hallways, or anytime outside of their learning group whenever physical distancing cannot be maintained.
“Exceptions will be made for students who cannot wear masks for medical reasons,” the provincial government said.
The guidelines also cover the key components of delivering K-12 education during the pandemic, including curriculum, report cards, supports for students with disabilities/diverse abilities, and finance and operations.
“Even when wearing a mask, staff and students will still be required to maintain physical distance from people outside of their learning group,” the province said. “Efforts will be put in place to ensure there is not crowding, gathering or congregating of people from different learning groups in a school setting, even if non-medical masks are being worn.
Schools will also ensure “non-medical masks are available for staff if someone should become ill while at school.”
And to help staff and students meet these expectations, the Ministry of Education said it is providing additional funding to school districts that will support the purchase of up to 1.5 million masks, “enough for every public-school staff member and student to have at least two masks.”
The province said other health and safety guidelines will include the following:
- Increased cleaning of high-contact surfaces like doorknobs, keyboards, desks, and chairs.
- Increased hand hygiene with all students, with staff and visitors being required to clean their hands before boarding school buses and entering school buildings, and before and after eating, using the washroom, and using playground equipment.
- School districts may also install transparent barriers for people who have more contact with others, such as front-desk staff, bus drivers, or food services staff, where appropriate.