The Department for Education has revised its guidance for the wearing of face masks in secondary schools only. Previously the guidance for all schools was that face masks were not recommended in a school setting. The new guidance is that headteachers have the flexibility to require that masks should now be worn by all pupils (Year 7 and above) in communal areas, when moving about the school, where it is unlikely that social distancing can be enforced.
We would comment as follows:
- The guidance only applies to secondary schools. Primary schools are not included in this update and the advice for those schools remains unchanged.
- The government is not enforcing the mandatory wearing of face masks. The guidance is designed to allow headteachers to make a decision in respect of their individual settings as and when required.
- If you do wish to implement the wearing of face masks, then we would recommend that you do so in the following areas:
– Inside buildings when moving between classrooms and particularly if corridors are likely to be crowded.
– Within dining halls, except when sat at a table to eat. This would mirror the guidance given to the wearing of face masks within cafes etc.
This might allow you to control pinch points within your school where crowding cannot be avoided.
- The use of face masks within classrooms is not recommended, however you may wish to allow this selectively if it would serve to encourage staff or pupils to feel safe within the school setting. We would recommend that this be the exception rather than the rule, however.
- There will be persons for whom the wearing of face masks is not appropriate. These persons should not be included in any plans to wear face masks.
- Where schools are located within areas where local restrictions are in force (these are listed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/local-restrictions-areas-with-an-outbreak-of-coronavirus-covid-19) the wearing of masks will be required in communal spaces when moving around the school, and the discretion of the headteacher will be removed. Again, those persons for whom the wearing of masks is inappropriate should be excluded from this requirement.
We appreciate that the new update will provide confusion and concern for you, your staff, pupils and parents. If you wish to discuss your individual circumstance please do not hesitate to contact us.