News Masks now mandatory for all K-12 students SHARE ON: Josiah Spyker, staff October 1, 2021 (Ryley McCormack, MyEastKootenaynow.com Staff) Starting on Monday, October 4th, 2021, masks will be required for kids in kindergarten to Grade 3. B.C. government officials said this health measure will build on the pre-existing guidelines that currently apply to all students in grades 4 to 12. “In-person learning is crucial for the social and educational well-being of students. The health and safety guidelines in our schools were developed under the guidance and direction of the Public Health Office (PHO) and BC Centre for Disease Control to allow children to safely attend school on a full-time, in-person basis,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education. “We know there is a high level of concern among some parents, students, teachers and boards of education, especially in regions of B.C. where transmission rates are higher.” “We are listening to the concerns of people and, on the advice of the provincial health officer, taking further action so that families, students and staff feel secure.” Beginning this month, a new monthly report will be released by the Provincial Health Officer that will give details on the virus and how it affects school-aged children. “This pandemic continues to evolve and so do we. We need to make changes to fit the situation as it’s arising,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer. “We know the COVID-19 virus is being transmitted more rapidly, particularly to those who don’t have the protection that vaccination offers. This extra measure adds another layer of protection as we navigate this phase of the pandemic.” The current mask order will remain in place until the end of this school term.