SCHOOL students in grade three and up will need to wear masks indoors as climbing case numbers in regional Victoria create challenges for schools that are reopening.
Younger children will not be forced to wear a mask but it will be strongly recommended when indoors at schools, chief medical officer Brett Sutton said.
"We have certainly seen cases such as in England ... where schools reopened without strong mask use from the get go, or indeed supported by all of those other layered mitigation such as good ventilation," he said.
Dr Sutton said the United States had also brought in mandates to successfully reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
Royal Children's Hospital expert Jane Munro said the decision was a good one.
"It is backed by good science. It is simple, it is safe," she said.
"There are no health risks for a child wearing a mask. It is easy to do and it is also common sense."
The Victorian government is trying to get more than one million children back into 30,000 classrooms and the Royal Children's has been researching ways to help their return.
Professor Munroe said the team has created a public education campaign helping teach children about masks and how to wear them and stay safe at school.
"If you keep checking the Children's Hospital website, you will see these evolve and roll out over the coming two weeks," she said.
"We will have kids help with fact sheets, videos and, next Thursday at 10am with several of our experts, we will have a Facebook library ... with some of our experts, about returning to school."
Professor Munroe said parents should know that, for most part, making the move to masks in classrooms would not be a big deal.
"Kids are great. They adapt. They are resilient and we can easily show them the way about how to wear a mask," she said.
REGIONAL Victoria recorded an extra 113 new cases and the state's chief health officer says those figures remain "steady" as a proportion of the overall outbreak.
It comes on a day Victoria announced another record number of statewide cases at 1838, with five deaths.
Professor Brett Sutton has also revealed that Greater Bendigo, Loddon and Benella are among areas that will be added to the "cross community area" border bubble with New South Wales.
"This means that people living within the bubble can enter and leave without a permit so long as they have stayed within that bubble area in the past 14 days," he said.
ANOTHER 1,838 people have COVID-19 in Victoria, contract tracers have confirmed after crunching numbers from Thursday.
Today's number is the highest daily case count for a state or territory throughout the entire pandemic.
Another five deaths were recorded.
An extra 36,600 got vaccinations in the 24 hours to midnight and 77,554 were tested for the virus.
About 1300 of them were tested at two Bendigo Health sites that at times were overwhelmed by the sheer number of people who had been at exposure sites or were exhibiting potential symptoms.
Bendigo Health will operate the following hours for today, Friday October 8:
- . McLaren Street walk-in 8.30am - 10am: Healthcare workers, pre-ops and truckies. 10am - 6pm General public.
- . Bendigo Showgrounds drive-through 8.30am - 6pm
It is unclear whether fragments that appeared unexpectedly in Bendigo wastewater on Thursday are connected with a new case, but the city's outbreak had grown to 12 confirmed cases by noon in the same period of time.
More cases were also detected in the Macedon Ranges and Campaspe shire areas, though the largest central Victorian increase came with 11 people diagnosed in the Mount Alexander Shire.
Statewide, case numbers remain so high that premier Daniel Andrews has ruled out following New South Wales' lead and fast-tracking its path out of lockdown.
His government has earmarked $5 million to help deal with lagging vaccination rates among people with disabilities.
This was slightly higher than the national average of 67 per cent, but lower than Victoria's general population at 84 per cent.
- With Australian Associated Press
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