Children and parents across Central Otago are dealing well with being asked to wear masks indoors or socially distance, principals say.
    Currently, at the Orange traffic light setting, masks are strongly recommended to be used indoors in schools by pupils and staff in years 4-13 to slow the spread of Covid-19.
    The Ministries of Education and Health strongly recommended that all schools and kura amend their mask policy for the first four weeks of term three to require mask wearing in all indoor settings (where it would not have a significant impact on teaching and learning) for pupils in years 4 and above.
    Masks must be worn by all children aged 12 and above on school and public transport, unless exempt.
    Some Central Otago schools have gone beyond those recommendations.
    Wanaka Primary School principal Dr Wendy Bamford said the school ‘‘expected’’ pupils to wear masks or socially distance when indoors.
    That expectation applied from year 1, as it was teachers of the younger classes who seemed to catch most seasonal illnesses, she said.
    ‘‘The 5- and 6-year-olds are loving it — they feel so important.’’
    Dr Bamford said the school hosted a dance performance last week and was able to invite parents. Most wore masks and those who did not stood to the side beside an open door.
    ‘‘I’m very proud of my lot,’’ she said.
    Maniototo Area School principal Joe Ferdinands said the school had been mandating the wearing of masks indoors and on buses.
    ‘‘We have a very supportive school community and there have been no worries about this,’’ he said.
    Millers Flat School principal Hilary Spedding said mask use had continued with older pupils ‘‘all the way through’’ the traffic light changes.
    ‘‘If you explain what the reasons are, they are very understanding.’’
    Roxburgh Area School principal Paul McDowall said the school had also required mask-wearing for older pupils who did not have exemptions.
    In Cromwell, Goldfields Primary School principal Anna Harrison said the school also kept up the expectation last term that older pupils and teachers continue to wear masks, and she was happy they had done so.
    ‘‘We have had an uptick in Covid cases in the last month but it could have been much worse,’’ Mrs Harrison said.
    Dunstan High School has recommended its pupils wear masks indoors, deputy principal Todd Adams said.
    ‘‘Some of them do, some of them don’t.
    ‘‘It’s something we are monitoring constantly, looking at our national and local rates of infection,’’ Mr Adams said.
    ‘‘It’s about keeping people well.’’