A Ballarat high school says students are embracing its mask-wearing rule, but another principal has described the Victorian government’s choice not to mandate facial coverings as “a relief”.
- Senior students at Loreto College Ballarat were included in the decision-making process
- The deputy principal says the rule is being readily accepted
- A Warrnambool school principal says most people are happy to follow the guidelines without a mandate
The Department of Education’s school operations guide was updated last night to include the “strong” recommendation that face masks be worn indoors by people aged eight and older.
“Schools are not required or expected to sanction students or staff who do not meet this expectation, but are asked to communicate this expectation to the whole school community and seek their support for this collective effort,” the document reads.
Loreto College Ballarat independently made the choice to introduce mask-wearing last Thursday after a meeting between its leadership team and Year 12 school leaders.
According to data from the state’s health department, as of today Ballarat has the third highest rate of active cases per 100,000 people in Victoria.
The college’s deputy principal, Christine Shaw, said it was “important” to involve students in making the decision to mask up.
She said they were “really keen” not to miss any more classes after the last few years of disruptions and that so far the rule had been widely embraced.
“Obviously if someone has a position on the mask exemption, we have to respect that and work with that,” she said.
The school has a small supply of masks available for students who forget theirs.
“Staff will remind students — it is a respectful conversation,” Ms Shaw said.
“If they have got an exemption, they’ll talk to staff about that.
“It’s probably been far easier than it was the first time around, when it was a new thing.”
In Warrnambool, Brauer College principal Jane Boyle told ABC South West Victoria Breakfast she welcomed the department’s advice.
“If we can slow down the number of students and staff who are away … and protect as many people as possible, I’m sure most people will just see it as part as living in this pandemic,” she said.
Ms Boyle described the choice not to mandate mask-wearing as a “relief”.
“It makes it easier,” she said.