MONTREAL -- A Montreal pediatrician is calling on the Quebec government to make masks mandatory for students returning to class amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earl Rubin, the head of the Children's Hospital's pediatric infectious diseases unit, cited a South Korean study showing children who are aged 10 and up transmit the virus just as adults do.

Rubin, who has consulted with several schools, noted that public and private schools have different leeway when it comes to implementing a mask policy and that some private schools “have looked into aumenting protective measures.”

Rubin said he hopes children will be required to wear masks in the classroom when schools re-open.

The province's back-to-school plan, which was unveiled earlier this month, students in grade five and up will be required to wear masks in common areas, but not classrooms.

Rubin said as a parent he understands some parents' desire to keep their child at home, but reassured them about the return to the classroom.

“It's going to be a challenge, but overall, if the child was well enough to go to school pre-COVID, during influenza, then I believe they're well enough to go to school during COVID as well,” he said.

The plan has been criticized for lacking detail, not taking teachers' safety into consideration and faces a legal challenge from parents who wish to have their kids learn at home.