B.C.'s middle school and high school students will be asked to mask up in hallways and crowded spaces | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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B.C.'s middle school and high school students will be asked to mask up in hallways and crowded spaces

August 17, 2020 - 2:28 PM

Guidelines for where how and where masks will be worn in B.C. schools have been released.

School districts have been told by the Ministry of Education that 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, according to a press release from the Ministry of Education.

Exceptions, according to the ministry release, will be made for students who cannot wear masks for medical reasons.

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.

Staff and students will still be required, even when wearing a mask, to maintain physical distance from people outside of their learning group, according to the release.
"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," the Ministry said. "Schools will also ensure non-medical masks are available for staff if someone should become ill while at school."

The release stated that health and safety guidelines include increased cleaning of high-contact surfaces like doorknobs, keyboards, desks and chairs.

"All students, staff and visitors will also be required to clean their hands before boarding school buses and entering school buildings, before and after eating, using the washroom and using playground equipment," the release stated. "Front-desk staff, bus drivers or food services staff, will also have clear screens installed where they say it's appropriate."

The province is providing an additional $45.6 million to school districts for enhanced cleaning, handwashing stations, reusable masks and other safety measures.

School districts will also regularly monitor and assess how changes to the delivery of education impact mental and emotional well-being of students and staff.

The ministry also said there would be blended learning in some schools, where it may not be possible to have people stay in their learning group or physically distance on a full-time basis.

For these schools, districts are looking at a variety of options to maximize in-class learning for their students and, in some cases, they may need to offer a hybrid approach for their students with a blend of remote, online and self-directed learning.

For more info on back-to-school plans, learning groups and health and safety guidelines, visit the school website.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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