MONTREAL -- As of Friday, students from grades one to six in the Capitale-Nationale region will be required to wear masks in the classroom, the Quebec government announced Wednesday.

“This decision was made because of the deterioration of the epidemiological situation in the last few days in the region,” according to a notice from the health ministry.

The Capitale-Nationale region reported 71 cases of COVID-19 on Dec. 7, a jump from the 39 cases reported just a few days before, on Dec. 5.

Elementary students in the region are currently required to wear masks in common areas, but that measure will soon be extended to classrooms and school buses.

The new rules will be enforced in the Quebec City agglomeration, as well as in the regional municipalities of Portneuf, La Jacques Cartier, La Côte-de-Beaupré and L’Île-d’Orléans. The measure will not apply in the Charlevoix and Charlevoix-Est regions.

Masks will stick around in the classroom until the end of 2021. According to the release, the situation will be “re-evaluated after the holiday break.”

Vaccination of 5 to 11-year-olds is well underway in Quebec, with 32 per cent of children in this age group having received at least one dose.