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B.C. health officials say no province-wide mask mandate for K-to-12 students

Click to play video: 'Abbotsford school moves to remote learning as COVID-19 cases spike' Abbotsford school moves to remote learning as COVID-19 cases spike
Abbotsford Christian School is the latest school in the Fraser Valley to make the temporary shift to remote learning because of a COVID-19 outbreak – Sep 28, 2021

B.C.’s top doctor says the province will not be extending the COVID-19 mask mandate to include school-aged children in kindergarten to Grade 3, after the Vancouver School Board voted to do just that.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Tuesday that it’s important to remember schools still have “many layers of protection in place,” and that masks are just one of those layers. At present, only children in grades 4-12 are required to wear them.

Click to play video: 'B.C. COVID-19 school exposure notices return, but no mask mandate expansion' B.C. COVID-19 school exposure notices return, but no mask mandate expansion
B.C. COVID-19 school exposure notices return, but no mask mandate expansion – Sep 28, 2021

The daily symptom check is still important, Henry added, as is not going to school when kids feel sick and limiting intermingling between classes in different grades.

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The night before, Vancouver school trustees became the first in B.C. to extend the district’s mask mandate to include kindergarten through to Grade 3, citing stress from parents.

Click to play video: 'Vancouver School Board votes in favour of mandatory masks for all grades' Vancouver School Board votes in favour of mandatory masks for all grades
Vancouver School Board votes in favour of mandatory masks for all grades – Sep 28, 2021

Read more: B.C. data shows dramatic rise in COVID-19 cases among school-aged children

Modelling data provided by B.C. health officials on Tuesday showed COVID-19 cases continuing to rise among school-aged children following the return to school.

The data shows as of mid-September, those five to 11 years old lead the way for transmission.

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As of this week, around 30 kids out of 100,000 aged nine to 11 are testing positive, as are 22 kids out of 100,000 aged five to eight.

The next highest group are 18- to 39-year-olds at a rate of 15 out of every 100,000 people.

The province did not provide similar data for children aged four and under.

Read more: Vancouver School Board makes masks mandatory for K-12 students

“The cases that we’re seeing are more much more likely to be from families where adults in the family are not yet immunized,” Henry said, “or (the children are) exposed in settings where there are older children or adults that are not yet immunized.”

The best way to protect children until a vaccine is developed for them is for every eligible person aged 12 and up to get vaccinated.

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