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Masks 'strongly recommended'

Masks 'strongly recommended'
Ashburton Intermediate student Kinsey Storey in class and masked up.

Masks in schools have gone from optional to “strongly recommended”, but the Government has stopped short of making them compulsory.
For most schools in Mid Canterbury, principals are saying nothing has changed.
The Government issued the recommendation to schools to enforce mask-wearing for the first four weeks of Term 3, but hasn’t made it compulsory, instead leaving it to individual schools to decide.
Mid Canterbury Principals’ Association spokesman and Ashburton Intermediate principal, Brent Gray, said that was already the case.
“Individual schools will have their own procedures around this, which is what the Ministry of Education are expecting.
“Ultimately it’s up to each school to do what they see is fit for their community and needs at the time.”
Gray said at the intermediate it was the status quo from how they operated last term.
“We have put it  to parents and students that mask wearing is recommended and have provided classes with masks for those who need them. This does not differ from Term 2,” Gray said.
The main issues driving the mask use is protecting the work force, he said, with schools forced to close or have year groups stay home due to staffing shortages last term.
Gray said the intermediate was coping, for now.
“We are managing at the moment, but really it only takes a couple of staff members to be ill, and that changes again.”
Mount Hutt College principal, Jack Saxon, said the recent second wave saw 25 per cent of the college’s teaching staff test positive for Covid either over the last three days of term 2 or early in the holidays, and there was a similar spike in cases among students.
He said they have started the new term with 99 per cent of staff back on board, and continue to enforce mask wearing as per the Government recommendations.
“The only students not in masks in assembly [on Monday] were those with exemptions, a clear indicator that our community is on board with the move,” Saxon said.
The Government is providing 10 million child masks for Terms 3 and 4 and continues to make adult-sized masks available to schools for staff and older students.
The Ministry of Education also stated it will advise whether it may be necessary to extend the mask policy beyond the first four weeks of Term 3.

  • By Jonathan Leask