The recommendation to wear masks in schools will be more difficult to handle than if it were mandatory, says the director of the Association of Secondary Principals.
A new set of mask rules takes effect when the country outside of Auckland drops to level 2. Face covers will be mandatory at level 2 in most covered public places such as libraries, cinemas and museums.
The government strongly recommends wearing masks for students 12 and older when they return to school on Thursday, but does not make it mandatory.
Secondary Principals Association president Vaughan Couillault said a recommendation rather than a rule can cause conflict when things are inconsistent in schools or across the country.
“There will be a lot of anxiety when people go from level 3 to level 2 and the recommendation, as opposed to the compulsion, will probably add to that anxiety where people are trying to decide what to do.
“It’s a little easier to follow a rule than to decide what to do.”
Couillault said a rule was easier for schools to administer and would reduce the possibility of conflict when students or teachers feel harmed.
“What we are likely to find with a recommendation is that people wonder what to do.”
The key would be consistency throughout the school or local area. “Everyone doing the same would definitely make it a little easier.”
While teaching can be more difficult when everyone is wearing a mask, distance learning is preferable, he said.
“If they ask me to choose online learning at home or at school with a mask, I would go face-to-face every day.”
The president of the Federation of Principals, Perry Rush, whose organization represents principals of elementary and middle schools, said he had written to the Secretary of Education asking for the justification of the optional use of masks in schools.
“Why is the public expected to wear masks indoors, but we have this voluntary but recommended advice for use in schools? That is not consistent and we are really interested in the justification.”
Guidance does not affect elementary schools, although it would admit some intermediate-level students.
“It is very difficult for young people, especially elementary school students, to wear masks, it is not a common sense arrangement.
“However, what we know is that everyone in this country has been very effective in following health advice, health has driven us, so we would like some clarity and precision on what the health rationale for this is. decision”.
“If it is … important and mandatory for the public, why is there a different arrangement for those 12+ students?”
Vaughan Couillault said that when schools went from Level 3 to Level 2 last year, there were a notable number of staff and students wearing masks.
“That tended to go away pretty quickly.
“At my particular school, there were several staff members who continued to wear masks at staff meetings when we were all crammed into the staff room and that lasted for about two or three weeks.”