NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Education Minister Sarah Mitchell announced the roadmap for a return to school at Friday's COVID-19 press conference, where it was also announced primary students would be "strongly encouraged" to wear a mask to school.
The Illawarra Mercury understands some local primary schools have begun to send out notices to parents alerting them of the change.
The Department of Education and Department of Health were asked how the policy would be enforced; whether students would be required to wear a mask while playing or exercising; and what the purpose of the change was.
Neither department provided a response; both claimed the other would be able to give answers.
University of Wollongong academic Chris Degeling said the increased spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19 was likely the impetus behind the decision.
He said while he could understand concerns about children touching or moving their masks, they were likely to touch their faces anyway, and the mask would still offer some protection.
"If we enculture mask wearing at a younger age becomes easier for people to follow the same sets of rules and guidelines," he said.
"They're going to touch everything anyway, so it is unlikely it would increase transmission any more than just touching their face.
"Even if they're not wearing the mask perfectly it will still reduce risk and given the alternative of at home learning, I would think that most parents would welcome any initiative that makes the school environment safer."
Some parents have expressed concern online about the impact of masks on children's mental health, however Dr Degeling said he was not aware of any research that showed a link between mask-wearing and poor mental health outcomes for children.
"Some people have concerns around social development and needing visual cues, but if the trade-off is continuing to isolate kids at home I think I know the option most kids and parents would err towards," he said.
"All of us are getting much more used to it - it's just a case of adapting. The world will not be the same in 2022 as it was in 2019, but that's ok."
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