Just another masked Monday

Who is that masked ... oh wait, that’s just Annalise.

Annalise Miller is one of about 200 pupils at North East Valley Normal School who have started wearing masks on Mondays, as part of the school’s attempt to normalise them in the community.

While the pupils are savvy enough to know they are not incognito super heroes when they wear the masks, their teachers say they are good role models for making a stand and trying to influence societal behaviour.

Despite the masks covering most of their faces, teacher Tracy Ballantine said it was actually pretty easy to identify each of her pupils.

"I’m surprised about how much you can see with most of their faces being covered.

"You can tell a lot about how they’re feeling by looking at their eyes.

North East Valley Normal School pupil Annalise Miller (8) participates in the school’s Masks on...
North East Valley Normal School pupil Annalise Miller (8) participates in the school’s Masks on Mondays project. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH

"You can tell whether or not they’re feeling happy or sad, or whether they’re being a bit silly or cheeky — they raise their eyebrows or they look in a different direction."

Miss Ballantine said the pupils started wearing them at school last Monday and, since then, she had noticed they were starting to wear them more during the week as well.

"We’re just trying to make it so that if kids want to wear a mask, it’s OK to wear a mask and no-one’s going to make fun of anybody, and it’s just going to become one of those things that we do, because it makes us feel OK."

She said it was important to "normalise" face masks because some pupils needed to wear them.

"For lots of our kids, there was anxiety after the Covid lockdown. The masks have made it easier for them to do things, like catching a bus.

"We’ve got a couple of kids in here who have found it really hard to leave their house.

"So wearing a mask to school means that they feel like they’re safe, which is good."

It was hoped other schools and Dunedin residents would take to wearing masks as well, she said.

  • Masks are not compulsory in schools, but as of Monday next week, all pupils must wear masks when using public transport.



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