A Warrnambool school is encouraging its staff and students to "consider" health advice and wear masks indoors in a bid to "help keep the college open".
King's College principal Allister Rouse sent an email to parents, carers and students on Monday, reminding them of the health advice that "strongly recommends" masks continue to be worn inside to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
It comes after Warrnambool secondary schools faced "significant" staff and student absences last week following a spike in local COVID-19 case numbers. The city's businesses have also faced major staff shortages.
King's College was forced to switch to a hybrid model of face-to-face and online learning last week after its year 12 class "was hit fairly severely".
Mr Rouse said the move was sparked by an increase in cases in the community.
"In the college since the start of May, there have been 35 reported cases in students and staff," Mr Rouse said. "This is a timely reminder that we still need to practice social distancing and hand washing.
"The public health advice is to wear a mask when indoors. In the current climate, the college endorses this advice in an effort to minimise disruptions to learning and help keep the college open.
"Please consider this advice and follow as you feel appropriate."
Victorian public health guidelines state pupils in Grade 2 and below at primary school are exempt from mask-wearing.
When speaking to The Standard, Mr Rouse said COVID-19 still existed and everyone had a part to play.
"It's always been the recommendation from the health department for any venue so I was just reminding people of that," he said. "Because I think they start to forget, one, that COVID's still around and two, that they need to be cautious."
"It's to remind people to be responsible. We've had 35 cases since the start of May. It's a reminder to do what you can to help us keep the school open.
"We've been scrambling to staff things and I think all schools are in the same situation."
Brauer College principal Jane Boyle said it was in a similar situation as last week when it recorded its highest number of teacher and student absences so far this year.
She said the college case numbers were "pretty much the same as last week" but mask wearing wasn't something it was stipulating.
"It's a matter of choice," Ms Boyle said. "Some staff do, some students do but there hasn't been a wholesale return."
IN OTHER NEWS:
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content:
Now just one tap with our new app: Digital subscribers now have the convenience of faster news, right at your fingertips with The Standard:
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.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.