NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has ruled out allowing HSC students to sit exams mask free, saying he “tried everything” to ditch the rule.
Even private school students will be made to cover their mouths and noses – including those getting a $38,000-a-year education at The King’s School, where officials initially said they wouldn’t enforce the mask rule.
“I have looked at this on and off for the last five days with the health teams, the education teams,” Mr Perrottet said on Sydney radio station 2GB on Friday.
“I’ve tried everything to get this change made … (but) as part of the HSC, masks are mandatory.”
He said if masks were not mandated for exams, the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) would struggle to find enough people to oversee them, as many examiners are elderly.
Enforcing mask wearing in examination halls would decrease the risks of outbreaks that would force many students to isolate as close contacts, Mr Perrottet said.
He said NESA oversees the exams for both private and public schools and the rules wouldn’t be any different for those at private institutions.
Private school principals and the Association of Independent Schools of NSW joined together to applaud NESA’s decision.
“We fully support NESA’s requirement that students wear masks for all HSC examinations,” they said.
“While the wearing of masks is uncomfortable at times, we know that this measure will protect the supervisors employed by NESA to conduct the examination and provide them a safe workspace.
“It will also protect school staff and students and help minimise ongoing disruption for students in the event of a positive case.”