The rapid increase in instances of COVID-19 among schoolchildren has led to a renewed request for pupils to mask up in class voluntarily.
However, some principals, health experts, and parents are sceptical, claiming that the advantages do not exceed children’s learning risks.
The new recommendation that students should wear masks has been discussed with the students.
The number of students reporting a positive result on Monday increased by 67 percent, from 892 last week to 1,642.
The start of term 3 last week was the trigger for the steep rise in the number of Victorian schoolchildren catching COVID-19: last week, 892 children reported a new infection on Monday.
The increase of 67 percent is significantly higher than the increase of 15 percent in new cases in the general population over the previous week, which ended on Monday.
As of Monday, the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria and Independent Schools Victoria are requesting that all students aged eight and over, as well as all staff, wear masks while in class for the remainder of winter.
The letter stated that the request was made “asking all students aged eight and over and all staff in all schools across Victoria to wear masks when in class when they
The operations handbook for government schools, which is also relied on by the majority of Catholic and independent schools, used language that was more strong and said that it is “the expectation” of the department that pupils and staff wear masks.
However, it did not go so far as to issue a mandate, and it stated that schools were not compelled to take disciplinary action against students who did not comply.
However, ministers in the Andrews government insisted that the new recommendation had originated from the school sector, not the government, and that it did not signal a change in its approach to managing the most recent wave of infections. The communique was endorsed by Professor Ben Cowie, who was acting as the Chief Health Officer at the time.
Cowie had previously suggested bringing back mask directives for early childhood and school settings, as well as for workers in retail and select hospitality settings; however, the suggestion was turned down by Health Minister Mary-Anne Thomas.