MONTREAL -- Starting Monday, there will be new rules for children in many of Quebec's elementary schools, as part of an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19 in that age group.

According to Quebec's health ministry, masks for children aged four and five will now be mandatory on school buses, if older children are present.

In addition, during indoor physical education classes, masks will be required when it is not possible to maintain a distance of two metres between students in grades one to six.

These changes are taking place in elementary schools in 10 regions of Quebec:

  • Centre-du-Québec;
  • Estrie;
  • Lanaudière;
  • Laurentides;
  • Laval;
  • Mauricie;
  • Montérégie;
  • Montreal;
  • Outaouais;
  • and the four MRCs of Chaudière-Appalaches (MRC des Appalaches, MRC de Robert-Cliche, MRC de Beauce-Sartigan and MRC des Etchemins).

Up until now, masks were only required from Grade 1 and up, including on school buses.

Children under the age of 12 are currently not eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

However, federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu stated this week she expects a submission from Pfizer in the coming weeks for the use of the vaccine in children aged five to 11.

"We anticipate that we'll get a submission, hopefully in the early stages of October," she said on CTV's Power Play. "As soon as we receive the data from the company, the regulators are well-situated to rapidly review that data."

The changes in Quebec schools will take effect starting Monday, Oct. 4.