B.C. students from K-12 will no longer be mandated to wear masks after their return from March Break.
“We recognize that spring break is slightly different in the 60 school districts. All of the revisions will come into play when you return from spring break, whenever that is,” said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry Thursday, explaining that the province is transitioning to a more normal learning environment for children.
Currently, 55.7 per cent of children ages 5-11 have received their first COVID-19 vaccine dose; meanwhile, 56.3 per cent of British Columbians 12 and up have received a booster.
And while children under 11 continue to get vaccinated, Henry stated that "we know that schools are [a] very structured environment with the same children that go in and out... as risk goes down, that’s reflected in the community.”
In today’s press briefing, B.C.’s top doctor expressed her confidence in revising COVID-19 guidelines, which includes lifting the provincewide mask mandate Friday and axing the BC Vaccine Card program on April 8.
"We're in a good place right now," Henry told reporters.
The provincial health officer noted B.C. is one of the most vaccinated jurisdictions in the world.
“It has been a long and trying two years. Our masks have provided a level of comfort and protection. I want to assure you that I feel confident about what we’re doing and that we’re in place to do this now. These decisions are grounded in science.”
Respect others and their decision around mask use: Henry
Henry also announced that B.C.'s post-secondary residence vaccine requirement would be lifted on April 8.
And while masks will no longer be mandated, she still encourages wearing masks in settings where people are in close quarters.
Henry asked British Columbians to respect people's comfort levels.
"We all have our own risk and we may not be aware of the risks of those around us... We need to be respectful about people's choices to keep their gatherings small or to stay outside rather than inside."
She said people should continue to monitor themselves for symptoms, stay home if they're feeling unwell, get tested, wash their hands and get their booster if they haven't already done so.
She added B.C. is moving from a mandated approach to an empowered, self-management approach, citing that people now know the basics of being COVID-19 safe.