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Masks won't be required in B.C. schools, Dr. Bonnie Henry says
An empty classroom is seen in this undated file photo. (Source: iStock, DONGSEON_KIM)
VANCOUVER -- More students will be returning to schools in B.C. next week, and while many new safety measures are being put in place, requiring masks won't be among them.
B.C.'s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, said during her briefing Tuesday that wearing face masks will be optional for those who want to protect others.
"We don't see non-medical masks as being required on an ongoing basis in that setting," Henry said. "The other measures that we have in place are the most important ones."
Henry said only small numbers of students will be together in classrooms and they're not expected to be mixing together. For younger students, Henry said it's also important to emphasize hand hygiene and that they can't touch each other.
"Those are the things that we're focusing on. We know that there are some people who are not able to wear a non-medical mask, whether for medical reasons or for reasons of disability," she said.
"They are an extra tool that can be layered on above other things but it's not something that we would require."
Instead, Henry said masks can be helpful when it's not possible to maintain a safe physical distance from others.
When students do return to class part time on June 1, class sizes will be reduced and extra cleaning protocols will be in place. As well, lunch breaks, recesses and pick-up times will be staggered.