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What West Australian parents need to know


“This next month, as the Premier outlined, is going to probably be one of our most testing periods of the entire pandemic,” he said.

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Mr Jarman welcomed the new measures despite kindergarten to year 2 students not being included.

“That was a concern to us. But the response we had from government was, ‘Well, they’ll be encouraged, and they’ll be supported if they choose to wear masks’,” he said.

Mr Jarman said the transition to schools informing their families about infections and measures taken to stop the spread, with better information from WA Health about all the various scenarios, had helped made the lines of communication clearer.

“I’m really quite confident that our principals and our teachers are handling things as best as they possibly can now, which means all we need to do is get in behind them – learning is going to be disrupted,” he said.

Parents needed to prepare themselves for learning from home arrangements, with the department investing in resources and schools formulating learning from home plans.

“And really, the stay at home is now a very short period of time since the state government reduced its quarantine period from 14 days down to seven,” Mr Jarman said.

“So hopefully most children will only miss a week of school, which can be managed by the learning from home resources.”

Western Australian Primary Principals’ Associ­­­­ation president Niel Smith said the measures would provide some relief, but did not want school leaders or staff being required to constantly monitor mask protocols at the expense of learning.

“WAPPA’s concern is that as community frustration does start to grow, as has been the case, school leaders are the ones left to manage these situations with disgruntled parents,” Mr Smith said.

“Ultimately this is a community issue, and we are all required to follow Chief Health Officer advice.”

Mr Smith said unlike secondary school, primary schools could have split classes across Years 2 and 3, with specialist teachers in physical education, music and art exposed to hundreds of students a day, compared to class teachers who had 32 children.

“There are logistical matters that may still need to be considered, such as who will ensure masks are supplied and worn correctly?” Mr Smith said

“Primary school environments are already high contact areas in relation to sharing equipment and resources.”

The WA Council of State School Organisations also flagged the need for sensitivities to be shown to children who live with disability and have different needs and behavioral problems, when masks were not an option.

What type of mask should children wear?

  • The best mask is one that fits well and is comfortable enough for your child to wear all day.
  • Washable cloth masks come with colours and prints that kids find appealing but provide the least protection, three-ply masks appear more effective than single or two ply-products.
  • Surgical masks (or medical masks) are single-use items, which work best when the nose-wire is shaped to fit the face.
  • PFR masks (labelled as P2, N95, KN95 or KF94) are designed to tightly seal on the face, so air only passes through the mask material, which most young children won’t fit or tolerate for long periods of time.

President Pania Turner said education support schools in particular were good at addressing and understanding individual requirements.

“I really would like to step away from it being policed, [instead towards] supporting children to be able to meet the requirements that have been put upon them,” she said.

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Ms Turner said it was also vital that more vulnerable cohorts of children in lower socio-economic areas were given greater government support, so they weren’t left behind due to the pandemic.

Telethon Kids Institute director, Professor Jonathan Carapetis, said many younger children tolerated wearing masks well but parents and school staff could help kids adjust better using comprehensive resources and tips prepared by the Telethon Kids Institute.

“Because some children will take time to get used to wearing a mask, this needs to be done sensitively – schools and parents can help to smooth the way by starting to work with children now on how to wear masks properly, and why they are needed,” he said.

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