Health, safety remain focus for new school year (

Media Contacts

Ministry of Education

Government Communications and Public Engagement
250 356-5963


Updated COVID-19 guidelines for K-12 schools

The updated provincial COVID-19 communicable disease guidelines for K-12 schools in the 2021-22 school year include, but are not limited to, the following changes:

  • The mask mandate in place at the end of the 2020-21 school year will stay in place to start this school year. All K-12 staff visitors, and students in grades 4 to 12 will be required to wear non-medical masks in all indoor areas of the school and on school buses. Students in kindergarten to Grade 3 will be strongly encouraged to wear masks.
  • The mask guidance will also be supported by a provincial health order on mask wearing.
  • Cohorts, also known as learning groups, are no longer recommended by public health as a COVID-19 mitigation measure and will not be used.
  • Local public health orders may be put in place for entire regions or communities, including schools. For schools, the local medical health officer may issue a recommendation for an individual school, a grouping of schools, a school district, all schools within the health authority region or some combination thereof, to implement specific additional health and safety measures during times of elevated risk.
  • Any additional regional measures put in place by local medical health officers are likely to be similar to those in place during the 2020-21 school year, and may include:
    • limits on gatherings and events;
    • changing room arrangements or incorporating more activities that maximize space between people and reduce face-to-face contact; and
    • limiting visitors.
  • The following cleaning frequency guidelines must be adhered to when cleaning and disinfecting schools:
    • General cleaning of the premises, and cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces, at least once in a 24-hour period and when visibly dirty.
  • Extracurricular activities are allowed in line with any local, regional, provincial or federal health orders in the community.
  • Although physical distancing of two metres is no longer a recommended public health measure for the K-12 setting, there are strategies that schools can continue to use to create space between people and to support students and staff going back to school. Examples include:
    • reminding students and staff about respecting others personal space, and using visual supports, signage, prompts, video modelling, etc., as necessary;
    • using available space to spread people out where possible for gatherings and events;
    • taking students outside more often, where and when possible; and
    • managing flow of people in common areas, including hallways and around lockers, to minimize crowding and allow for ease of people passing through.
  • Food programs (e.g., meal programs, cafeterias and fundraisers) can proceed under normal and regular operation.
  • Water fountain use will no longer be restricted.
  • Outdoor classes will still be encouraged, based on their health and learning benefits.

Public health continues to support the BC Centre for Disease Control’s current health and safety guidelines for child care settings.

  • The child care guidance recommends staff should wear non-medical masks when interacting with adults in indoor areas where physical distancing cannot be maintained.
  • Children may wear a mask based on personal or family choice. However, infants under two years old should not wear masks, as it may make it difficult for them to breathe.