A high school has reinstated a Covid mask requirement more than six months after it was scrapped entirely across the country, sparking backlash.
Liverpool Girls’ High School in south-west Sydney announced on Tuesday that pupils in Years 9, 10 and 11 would have to work from home from now on, while all staff and pupils still at school would have to wear masks.
The school first announced a five-day mask requirement for all students amid a small outbreak of Covid cases, before sending some students home as numbers rose.
The last remnants of widespread mask rules mandating the wearing of masks on international flights and on public transport were scrapped in Australia in September last year.
dr Known as the face of the government’s rollout of the Covid vaccine, Nick Coatsworth told Daily Mail Australia that the reintroduction of compulsory masks in schools was worrying.
‘That’s a problem. “No child in an Australian school should be forced to wear a mask,” said Australia’s former deputy health minister.
Liverpool Girls’ High School, which has around 900 pupils, has reintroduced home learning for some pupils and a mask requirement for others in the face of a small Covid outbreak
Former Deputy Chief Health Officer Dr. Nick Coatsworth told Daily Mail Australia that “no child in an Australian school should be forced to wear a mask”.
Liverpool Girls’ High School introduced the measures after a large number of pupils recently tested positive for Covid.
They first shared that starting Monday this week, all students, staff and visitors to the school would have to wear masks for the next five days.
But on Tuesday afternoon, as more students tested positive, they urged 9th, 10th and 11th graders to study from home Wednesday through Friday.
7th, 8th and 12th graders continue to attend school and are required to wear masks.
A mother, who asked to remain anonymous, told Daily Mail Australia that she does not want to see a return to the draconian restrictions imposed during the Covid pandemic.
“There was no consultation with the parents at all,” she said.
“Nobody else in the community is being forced to wear masks again, so it doesn’t seem fair to our children.”
She added that she had been told that students who refused to wear masks would be sent to the deputy principal’s office and their parents would be called.
“It’s quite frustrating because my daughter is in 10th grade and doesn’t like homeschooling,” she said.
“We just hope it doesn’t get any worse over the winter and results in all the kids learning from home again.”
“I think we have to learn to live with it and treat it like a cold or the flu.” “I’m not mad, I just find it frustrating because the kids have such a hard time.”
Professor Peter Collignon previously told Daily Mail Australia that masks made little difference in the community’s Covid epidemics (stock image)
dr Coatsworth has previously been a vocal opponent of mask requirements in schools, saying it “overstates the benefits of mask requirements for children”.
“They don’t really protect the children themselves because it’s a very, very mild disease in children with or without vaccination,” he said.
While there is a risk of a child passing the virus on to a frail relative, he said the added benefit of masks in children is small with proper precautions such as hand washing, rapid antigen testing and vaccinations.
“I have trouble communicating with my patients (while wearing a mask). “It’s hard for them to hear me, it’s hard for them to know who I am, and if that’s hard for me, all I can think of is that it would be harmful to the children.”
Infectious disease expert Peter Collignon told Daily Mail Australia: ““Masks don’t really impact community epidemic trajectories, although they provide some personal protection.”
“Probably not as big a reduction (in infection exposure) as people think — it’s not an 80 percent reduction, more likely 10 percent.”
Meanwhile, another school in NSW, Orange High School in the state’s central west, also announced this week that students in grades 7 to 10 will be studying from home amid a small outbreak of Covid cases .
The announcement affects one grade level each day – however, 11th and 12th graders are exempt from the policy.
Principal Ali McLennan wrote to parents, “Due to the impact of COVID-19, some of our students and staff are unable to attend school.”
“The positive COVID-19 cases have particularly affected our employees.”
“Students who are unable to study from home will be looked after when they attend school,” added Ms McLennan.
Daily Mail Australia has reached out to Liverpool Girls’ High School, the NSW Education Department and the Office of Prime Minister Chris Minns for comment.