WINNIPEG — The Manitoba government has shifted their opinion on masks in schools and will now make them mandatory for certain grades when classes resume.
Beginning September 8, students in Grades 4-12 will be required to wear a mask or face covering in classes, while social distancing isn’t possible. Previously, the province “strongly recommended” masks for older students in Grades 5-12 to help contain the spread of COVID-19.
Premier Brian Pallister announced the changes during a news conference on Wednesday alongside Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer.
“What we heard from administrators, school leaders, parents (and) teachers as well, is that it would be even more straightforward to say it’s required,” Pallister said.
Dr. Roussin said younger kids will not have to wear face coverings.
“To mandate mask-wearing in a five- or six-year-old, and then try to enforce that, (would) be a real challenge,” he said.
Students will be expected to bring their own non-medical masks to school, but they will also be provided to those who don’t have a mask. Roussin added the government may make masks mandatory in other indoor areas in the future.
Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen is expected to provide further details on the mandate in the coming days.
— With files from The Canadian Press