PRINCIPALS of central Victoria's prep-to-year 12 schools say their students are coping well despite conflicting COVID-19 measures for different year levels.
All regional students returned to face-to-face classes on October 12 after months of remote learning.
With students back in the classrooms, the Department of Education enforced a number of rules to keep the schools "COVID-safe".
The measures included the wearing of face masks for all students over the age of 12. Those under 12, or in primary schools, were not required to wear a mask.
Music classes involving singing or the playing of brass and woodwind instruments were banned, while gatherings like school assemblies were also not allowed.
Marist College Bendigo principal Darren McGregor said his students were on board with the new requirements.
"The kids have been excellent at following COVID-safe practices," he said. "When we went into lockdown, there was a sense of fear and uncertainty but that is gone.
"The kids are cautious but I don't think they are as concerned as they were three months ago.
"There is a sense of calmness. The kids are pretty mature and they understand they need to follow the right practices for their own benefit."
East Loddon P-12 College principal Steven Leed said while one of the varying requirements was face masks, the students had made the situation easy.
"It's been really well taken up," he said. "All of the 12-year-old students and older are wearing masks. Many of the junior students are wearing them as well. We haven't had any issues."
But Mr Leed said physical distancing was a bit of a challenge on the first day back.
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"All of the kids were so excited to see each other and join with their friendship groups again," he said. "So it was a bit difficult to enforce.
"We have relied heavily on our senior students to do the right thing and the set the right example."
Mr McGregor said some students in the lower year levels at Marist chose to wear masks even though they were not required to.
He said the school had also taken to virtual assemblies upon the return to on-site classes.
"The biggest concern is that we can't have year level assemblies," Mr McGregor said. "We have to work out how we can farewell our year 12s.
"We are working very closely with the student leadership on how we can farewell them with dignity and celebrate them."
Mr Leed said there were similar considerations for senior students at his school.
"I'm really proud of how they are going," he said. "They came into the General Achievement Test really positive.
"They had missed seeing each other but they are feeling on track. They are looking forward to their exams in a pretty unusual year."
Mr Leed said despite there being so few coronavirus cases in the Loddon Shire, his staff and students were willing to follow the new rules.
"Early on in the pandemic there were three cases," he said. "That assisted our community in understanding that it was real and it could reach as far as East Loddon.
"There are no more active cases but we still need to follow the restrictions."
Mr McGregor said he was hopeful there would be fewer COVID-19 restrictions in the coming weeks.
"There's an indication that there will be an easing of restrictions in regional Victoria," he said. "I think we have to put our students at the forefront of that - particularly the year 12s.
"We have got to keep in mind there is a collective disappointment and challenges they face with so many restrictions. Hopefully there are a few more liberties for them."
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