Victorian primary school students heading back to face-to-face classes this week will have an extra item to make sure they pack - their face masks.
While prep to grade two students are already back at school and exempt from mask wearing requirements, face masks are now required for children in grades three to six while indoors at school.
Children in grades three and four resume part-time classes at school on Tuesday and Wednesday, and grades five and six on Thursday and Friday for two weeks before the bell rings for full-time classes at all year levels from October 26.
Ballarat-based Mount Pleasant Primary School principal Kate Robinson said some pupils were already wearing masks at school, including a handful in lower year levels.
"Some have been wearing masks already but it will be very new for other children," she said. "At this stage kids are used to seeing adults in masks in everyday life so from a school view it's about educating students how to wear masks, how to take them off safely and why."
Families were notified of the mask rule on Friday and while children are expected to bring their own from home the school will have masks on hand for those who forget.
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Ms Robinson said she expected children would quickly adapt to wearing masks at school.
"It's really important they know why they are wearing a mask, how it's a health and safety measure for them and people around them and understanding we are all looking after each other by doing this.
"These children know what COVID is; they know how it spreads, they've got routines around washing hands, sneezing in to the crook of their elbow, we don't shake hands any more. They've already had an enormous amount of change to procedures and routines in the to classroom and this is another one."
She said teachers would be encouraged to take advantage of outdoor learning spaces in good weather.
Royal Children's Hospital pediatrician Jane Munro said last week the decision for kids to wear masks at school was "backed by good science" and would help keep them at school.
"It is simple, it is safe. There are no health risks for a child wearing a mask. It is easy to do and it is also common sense," she said.
When schools returned in the UK, about eight per cent of children got COVID within the first few weeks and had to be absent, and Dr Munro stressed the importance of not repeating their experience - particularly with no vaccine currently approved for children under 12.
"Parents do not need to be concerned. Kids are great. They adapt. They are resilient and we can easily show them the way about how to wear a mask. Now, not all of them are going to get it right all the time.
"As parents, I would ask you to look back yourself about how your kids learned to wear a hat in prep with the no hat-no play policy, wearing a seatbelt ... all the things we teach kids to do that are good for them but they are not keen on in the start.
"Kids, they move around a lot in classrooms in primary school and they also tend to sneeze, snot on each other and even a lick each other sometimes and that is gross but it is reality, so trying to use steps to stop aerosol spread is really important."
Ms Robinson said she could not wait to have more students back in the school grounds this week.
"We know children thrive being at school, they thrive being with their peers and learning together. We are excited. The staggered start is a different approach but the important thing is we get them back."
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