Masks will be mandatory when schools reopen in September.
The government of Alberta announced the new measure on Tuesday, adding to their plan to have schools resume in-class teaching.
Students in grades 4 to 12 will be required to wear one in all common areas such as hallways and buses, however, they can take them off in classes if students and the teacher are physically distanced from each other. The province is encouraging classes to rearrange desks so students aren’t facing each other if the two-meter distance can’t be met.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, says students in kindergarten to grade 3 won’t be forced to wear a mask.
“Children who are 10 and older may be more likely to transmit COVID-19 then younger children, also they’re further along in their development and so better able to wear masks appropriately and safely.”
Younger students can still wear a mask if they choose to.
The province will also be providing over 1.6 million masks to students and staff, while additional masks will be given directly to the schools.
This includes two reusable masks for everyone and single-use masks at schools.
“Masks alone do not keep kids and school safe from COVID-19 – physical distancing, cohorting, frequent hand washing, enhanced cleaning, and changes to how classes schools operate are equally as important,” added Hinshaw.
Staff will also be given face shield they can use, however, masks will still need to be worn at the same time.