Victoria likely to announce mask mandate for school children

Rhiannon TuffieldNCA NewsWire
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Camera IconNot Supplied Credit: News Corp Australia

Children in Victorian schools might be forced to wear masks on school grounds, with the rule to likely be mandated once students return later this month.

It’s anticipated Victorian authorities will soon announce the mandate, along with extra measures to keep students safe.

Premier Daniel Andrews committed to reopening schools on the first day of Term 1, despite tens of thousands of cases and hospitalisations expected to peak in the state in the coming weeks.

Mr Andrews has also ruled out a return to remote learning at this stage.

“We’re focused on having our system as we knew it pre-pandemic,” he said.

“It may look different, it will be under a bit of strain because of course teachers are not immune from this virus.

“The main aim here is to have our kids back in the classroom as safe as we can on day one and then we will manage those risks as best we can as we go forward.”

Camera IconMasks may be mandated in Victorian schools from Term 1. NCA NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw Credit: News Corp Australia

It follows a national cabinet meeting held last night where state leaders discussed how Australians would navigate the return to school in the face of Omicron.

The Federal government will cover half the cost of a Covid testing regime of students and staff, but failed to lock in any consistent protocols for the states.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said while the national medical expert panel did not recommend surveillance testing in schools, the commonwealth would enter into a 50-50 funding split with states that chose to provide rapid tests to students and teachers.

Victoria is planning to encourage all students to complete two rapid tests every week once students return to the classroom.

Mr Andrews said students that contracted the virus would need to stay home, but suggested classes would otherwise continue as normal.

“Kids have had two very challenging years. It’s now time to get the kids back into the classroom,” he said.

Originally published as Victoria likely to announce mask mandate for school children

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