Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School pre-empts Level 2 mask restrictions for students Year 3 and above

Jacinta CantatoreBunbury Herald
Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School head of school Matthew O'Brien.
Camera IconBunbury Cathedral Grammar School head of school Matthew O'Brien. Credit: twyDenise

A Bunbury school pre-empted the State Government’s mask rules for its younger pupils by nearly a week, with students in Year 3 and above masking up before new public health rules had even been announced.

On Thursday, masks became mandatory for WA students in Years 3 and above, with children as young as eight years old now needing to mask up indoors — including in the classroom — for the first time since the pandemic began more than two years ago.

Premier Mark McGowan announced the new Level 2 restrictions on February 28, the changes to come into effect on March 3 when WA’s hard borders were eased after nearly 700 days.

On Sunday WA Chief Health Officer Dr Andrew Robertson further updated rules, with parents and carers now no longer required to automatically quarantine with a child who is identified as a close contact of a COVID-19 case.

But Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School students had already masked up before the restrictions were announced, following a meeting of the school’s purpose-built incident team.

“We implemented mask wearing for Years 3-6 last Friday,” head of school Matthew O’Brien said.

“We watched the case numbers in Perth increasing, and then we also saw our local cases and exposure sites increasing.”

The school has a critical incident management team, a purpose-built team which comes together to discuss how the school will manage critical and crisis situations.

“We had our first COVID meeting, in January, two years ago, when it was all just occurring in China and in the US,” Mr O’Brien said.

“We’ve been meeting pretty much weekly since that time.”

Group members had been monitoring the changes in contact tracing and close-contact definitions, and were anticipating changes that could develop once the hard border was eased.

“We know that the best place for our students is in classrooms with expert teachers,” Mr O’Brien said.

“Everything that we can do to mitigate against students having to isolate for a period of time is beneficial for them, for their relationships and for their learning.

“And while we’re well ready for remote teaching and learning for any student that needs it, we know that in the classroom is best.”

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