Victorian pupils are again being told to dress up in schools as Bill Shorten throws his support behind the move.
Children over eight have been asked to wear a mask by the end of winter amid a spike in classrooms Covid-19 Cases.
The state government has insisted the new council is not a mask mandate, as students will be asked to wear a mask indoors and on public transport.
Former Labor leader Bill Shorten, as a parent, said he believed children should be encouraged to wear a mask where possible.
“We’ve had 300 days of home schooling and the schools were closed,” he told Karl Stefanovic during an appearance on the Today Show Tuesday morning.
“For me it’s a no-brainer, do you want your child to be sick at home or do you want them to walk around with a mask?”
Former Labor leader Bill Shorten (pictured) has thrown his support behind the move and said as a parent he believes children should be encouraged to wear a mask
Stefanovic asked how the children were doing about having to wear masks, to which Mr Shorten simply replied: “We know it’s good for them.”
However, other parents have described the new rules as a “secret mandate” after a letter was sent home informing them of the new advice.
“We are asking all students aged eight and over and all staff in all schools across Victoria to wear masks in class from now until the end of winter (except when removing a mask is required for clear communication),” it said.
The letter, signed by the heads of state, independent and Catholic sectors, said children “are not required or expected to wear masks outdoors”.
A government source said Herald Sun Students would not be forced to wear a mask or be sent home if they did not follow the new advice.
“Nobody gets sent anywhere, it’s still up to individuals,” they said.
Parents in Victoria have dubbed the new rules “mandate by stealth” after a letter (pictured) was sent home informing them of the new advice
NSW and Victoria Health Ministers have so far resisted growing calls for a return to mask mandates (Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews pictured).
Education Minister Natalie Hutchins said that while masks are not mandatory, students and staff are strongly encouraged to wear them indoors.
“We know that masks offer good protection against transmission of Covid. While they are not mandatory, we strongly encourage all staff and students aged 8+ to wear them indoors at school,” she said.
The letter, sent home to parents, said the Victorian Department of Health strongly recommends wearing face masks indoors.
“We ask for your support in explaining to your child or children the importance of this simple step that will help keep our schools as safe as possible,” it said.
“We also ask that you ensure that your child (or children) brings a mask to school (and wears it when traveling on public transport) or collects a mask when they arrive at school.
“We all appreciate how important it is for students to be back in school. This action will help ensure that as many students and staff as possible are protected from Covid and other winter diseases.”
Covid statistics show that of Victoria’s 29,000 active cases, 6,000 are children and young people under the age of 19.
NSW and Victoria Health Ministers have so far resisted growing calls for a return to mask mandates, but critics say the upcoming state elections in October and November are the main reason for any delay in returning.
Education Secretary Natalie Hutchins said while masks are not mandatory, students and staff are strongly encouraged to wear them indoors (pictured, Melbourne students).
Covid statistics show that of Victoria’s 29,000 active cases, 6,000 are children and young people under the age of 19 (pictured Mr Andrews on Monday).
Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Ben Cowie urged the state government to bring masks back, but the advice was rejected by Health Secretary Mary-Anne Thomas.
“I made a decision based on the advice I received that continuing to make masks mandatory is not the most effective way to spread the message about the importance of wearing masks,” she said.
However, some parents are choosing to override state government decisions and follow the advice of the Minister of Health.
Professor Catherine Bennett of Deakin University insists that mask requirements will alleviate the coming Covid wave and will also play an important psychological role.
Putting on a mask is a reminder that things are not quite normal. It reinforces behaviors like stepping back from other people,” she told Seven West Media.
“The mask might be the thing that also helps us pay attention to those other things… and stay a little bit safer.”
Pupils over the age of eight have been asked to wear masks in classrooms and on public transport (pictured: pupils at Bentleigh Secondary College last July).
The statistics also showed that NSW had the highest number of Covid cases in Australia with 2,971,525 and 3,798 deaths. Victoria has had the most deaths, with 4,148 out of 2,245,301 cases.
The nation has also just surpassed the 75 million milestone for the number of Covid test results since the pandemic began, almost three at a time for every single person.
The vast majority of those who have contracted Covid are under the age of 50, with 3,121,953 cases to date. Only 293 people under the age of 50 have died from the virus since the pandemic began.
Statistics show that the under-50s have faced a less than 1 in 10,000 chance of dying from Covid since mass vaccination began in Australia.
Most of those killed by Covid were men over 70 and women over 80, accounting for 7,585 deaths out of the country’s total virus deaths of 10,582 as of 3pm on Friday.