Manitoba's premier says that after listening to overwhelming response from Manitobans, the government will be making mask usage in schools mandatory in certain situations.

Premier Brian Pallister and chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin made the announcement at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

"Out of an abundance of caution, and having listened with great interest to the input to literally thousands and thousands of Manitobans, we will be requiring mandatory use of masks in schools in grades 4 to 12 where physical distancing of 2 metres is not possible," Pallister says. He also says that includes staff in those schools.

Up until this point the government had strongly suggested the use of masks in schools, and mandated masks on school buses for those in grade 5 and up. Today's announcement takes things a step further, but stops short of making masks mandatory all of the time in schools.

Pallister says the decision was made after listening to Manitobans over the previous weeks, and following a virtual town hall Tuesday evening to discuss the province's back to school plans.

"We believe that greater clarity and confidence is essential, so we take these additional measures to ensure the health and safety of our most precious asset which is of course our children," he says.