B.C. middle and high school students, all staff now required to wear masks in classrooms

The new guidelines don't apply to elementary school students; that decision up to parents

The provincial government has mandated masks in classrooms | Photo: Getty Images

British Columbian students in middle and secondary schools and all K-12 staff are now required to wear non-medical masks while in class.

Thursday morning, B.C.'s Minister of Education Jennifer Whiteside announced the change to the province's education guidelines. While masks were previously required for students and staff in all "uncontrolled" indoor areas like hallways, the new rules require those in class to wear masks as well.

But the new mask rules allow students and staff to take off their masks when seated at their desks or work stations, when there are additional physical barriers in place, or when people are eating and drinking.

Dr. Bonnie Henry said the updated rules align with the current rules in offices and restaurants.

The new guidelines don't apply to elementary school students, and wearing a mask in those classrooms continues to be a choice for those younger students and their parents.

Whiteside said they also now recommend any high-intensity physical activity should be done outside when possible, and all shared equipment must be thoroughly cleaned between use.