Public health guidance for schools has been amended to encourage students down to Grade 4 to wear masks while at school due to the surge in new coronavirus (COVID-19) cases.
The announcement comes after health officials announced that there were 2,518 new cases of the virus detected from Friday (March 26) to Monday (March 29).
The new provincial public health orders will go into effect at midnight tonight (March 30) and will remain in effect until April 19.
The decision could expand the recently implemented order in Surrey Schools to the rest of B.C. Fraser Health issued an order for all staff from K-12 and all students from Grades 4 to 12 to don face masks at all times in the Surrey school district on Saturday (March 27).
Surrey Schools Superintendent Jordan Tinney took to Twitter Saturday (March 27) to share a notification letter that outlines the new mask protocol.
EPA mask mandate order
"COVID-19 continues to create challenges for people and businesses throughout B.C., and we are grateful for the sacrifices people continue to make to keep one another safe," said Premier John Horgan.
As outlined in the EPA mask mandate order, masks are required for everyone in many public indoor settings. A face shield is not a substitute for a mask as it has an opening below the mouth.
You could be subject to a $230 fine if you:
- Do not wear a mask in an indoor public setting, unless you are exempt
- Refuse to comply with the direction of an enforcement officer, including the direction to leave the space
- Engage in abusive or belligerent behaviour
"The sacrifices we make today will help all of us to get through this storm."
"Rising case levels, variants of concern, increased transmission and an increase in more severe cases are huge concerns," said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. "B.C. public health officials are making the tough choices now to break the chain and protect our communities."
Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.'s provincial health officer, said: "Social connection is important, and so is keeping our loved ones and ourselves safe. We all have a choice - to stay safe or put our loved ones, our friends and ourselves at risk, which is why non-essential activities need to be limited and need to be outside with the same small number of people. The sacrifices we make today will help all of us to get through this storm."