Masks will be mandatory at times in B.C.'s middle and high schools

VICTORIA — Staff and students at middle and secondary schools in British Columbia will be required to wear masks on buses and in common areas when classes resume.

The provincial government says masks will also be required whenever students and teachers are outside their learning group and cannot maintain an appropriate physical distance because of COVID-19.

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The province says students who can't wear masks for medical reasons will be exempt from the updated health and safety guidelines.

The government says when they are wearing masks, staff and students will still have to maintain a physical distance from people outside of their learning group, which consists of students and staff who remain together through a school quarter, semester or year.

Learning groups were established on the advice of the provincial health officer to help prevent the transmission of COVID-19 and could be made up of a single class of students or multiple classes.

In a news release on Monday, the government says it is providing additional funding to schools to help pay for the purchase of up to 1.5 million non-medical masks.

It says the funding would provide for at least two masks for every staff member and student at the province's public schools.

In addition to the updated guidelines on the use of masks, the government says it is increasing the cleaning of things like doorknobs, keyboards, desks and chairs.

As well, students, staff and visitors will be required to clean their hands before boarding school buses or entering schools. Hands will also have to be cleaned before and after eating, when using washrooms and using playground equipment.

Schools are scheduled to open on Sept. 10.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Aug. 17, 2020.

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