A WARRNAMBOOL principal says COVID-19 restrictions have made it ''impossible to run a school" as all students return to classrooms this week.
King's College Warrnambool principal Allister Rouse expressed frustration at restrictions that limit parents visiting campuses, stop assemblies and school gatherings, and disallow students playing some instruments that require breath and to practise in groups.
"It makes it really hard to do some of the extra curricular things you would do in a school," Mr Rouse said.
"The restrictions outlined ... make it impossible to run a school."
However, regional schools can do some activities that metropolitan schools cannot, such as outdoor contact sport, interschool sport and go on excursions and overnight camps.
Mr Rouse said the 300 school students were "excited to be back" as they returned to classrooms in the past week, but he worried year 12s would lose more rites of passage such as end-of-year assemblies, possibly to occur virtually with pre-recordings.
"The restrictions have taken away the personal interaction we have with our school community," he said.
"The longer this goes on the greater the level of frustration there will be."
Mr Rouse said he wanted regional Victorian restrictions for schools to respond to the pandemic on a "case-by-case" basis.
Warrnambool Medical Clinic general practitioner Dr Phil Hall, who has been involved in the city's pandemic response, said he agreed with the "long-term benefit" of the government's restrictions but understood the frustration and "competing views".
"We are all stuck in the same boat," Dr Hall said. "We know that the incidents of positive cases are very low, however, those restrictions are made at a high level.
"It only takes one person to pass (the virus) on. Yes it seems like a lot of those restrictions are over the top, but the decision isn't up to us at this stage."
A Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman said "everyone is making huge sacrifices" but the highly infectious virus meant "we cannot be complacent".
"The restrictions are in place to bring down cases to as low as possible, reduce the risk of transmission and keep Victorian school children and staff safe," she said.
"We've seen how quickly this virus can spread throughout the community with tragic consequences and it is critical that we continue to limit the movement of people."
Emmanuel College principal Peter Morgan said the Catholic secondary school was "focusing on the positive" as students returned.
"We are focused on re-engaging everyone in their learning at school regardless of whether remote learning was a positive or negative experience," Mr Morgan said.
"This includes helping those who feel they have fallen behind to catch up and ensuring those who thrived while learning at home continue to do so."
Have you signed up to The Standard's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in the south-west.