Victorian students aged eight and over are being requested to wear masks indoors as part of new Department of Education advice but schools won't be required to ban children who don't.
A letter outlining the mask advice change - signed by the heads of the state, independent and Catholic sectors was released late Monday night.
It states that it is "strongly recommended" that students aged eight and over wear masks when indoors.
A spokesman for the Department of Education has been reported as saying the altered messaging to parents and carers was "not a change in policy" or mandate, but rather an attempt to ensure families and schools were aware of the recommendations from the Health Minister as respiratory illness cases increased in Victoria.
Warrnambool's Brauer College issued the updated advice to parents and guardians on Monday evening.
"The Victorian Department of Health strongly recommends that face masks are worn in all indoor settings," the information signed by principal Jane Boyle said.
"As a result we are asking all students aged eight and over and all staff in all schools across Victoria to wear masks when in class (except where removing a mask is necessary for clear communication) from now until the end of winter.
"Students wont be required or expected to wear masks when outdoors, and this expectation won't stop students participating in the full range of school activities, including music, sport and performances.
"We are asking 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.
"We also ask that you make sure your child (or children) takes a mask to school (and wears it if they are on public transport).
"We all appreciate how important it is for students to be back at school. This action will help make sure as many students and staff as possible are protected from COVID and other winter illness.
"Thank you for your help with this collective effort to keep our communities safe and healthy."
Anyone with queries was requested to contact Brauer College.
It's understood that changes were also made overnight to the Department of Education's school operational guide, stating it was the department's "expectation" that students aged eight and over would wear masks when in class until the end of winter.
The operational guide notes that schools are not "required or expected to sanction students or staff" who fail to meet the expectation around masks.
But schools are being expected by the department to communicate the push for all children eight and over to wear masks indoors, as part of a "collective effort".
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