The NSW government is considering making masks compulsory for high school students under the tougher levels of a new, four-tier school COVID-19 restriction strategy.
Under the plan, there would be restrictions ranging from learning from home, or level four, to COVID-normal or level one, which would be similar to the conditions under which schools have been operating so far this year.
Rose Bay Public School in Sydneys east got a deep clean this week due to a COVID-19 case. Credit:Wolter Peeters
Greater Sydney and regional NSW could have different settings. Next week, for example, Sydney will be under level four restrictions and the regions will have level two restrictions. Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the difficult decision to extend the lockdown until July 16 was largely due to the presence of the Delta variant in the community.
Initial proposals suggested masks would be compulsory for all teachers and staff and students from year seven under level three significant restrictions, and recommended under level two limited restrictions. This would apply to all schools, not just public schools.
However, government officials are on Wednesday debating whether its practical to make masks mandatory for secondary students or whether to strongly recommend their use, given some schools have almost 2000 students and ensuring compliance would be difficult.
Students in Victoria and in the United Kingdom have worn masks at various times, but in the UK secondary students who felt anxious about using masks were not forced to do so. In NSW exceptions would be made for students with disabilities.
However, it is likely masks will be mandatory for all staff under the tighter restrictions. Angelo Gavrielatos, the NSW Teachers Federation president, did not object, saying schools should have the same safety standards as workplaces, where masks are presently compulsory.
As impractical as it may be, our health and safety must come first, and as weve said, we want to see a consistent application across all settings of the restrictions, he said.

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