From Monday 8th March 2021, across England, children will be returning to the classroom.
While some parents and caregivers will be looking forward to waving their child off at the school gates, some are feeling apprehensive and have questions; one of the big questions is around face coverings.
Guidance on children and face coverings
The World Health Organisation (WHO) published a statement on 21st August 2020 regarding children and face coverings. Their advice remains that “children aged 12 and over should wear a face covering under the same conditions as adults, in particular when they cannot guarantee at least a 1-metre distance from others and there is widespread transmission in the area.”
The full statement can be read in more detail on the World Health Organisation website here.
The UK government have been following the guidelines set out by the WHO and applied this same guidance with regards to face coverings upon return to the classroom.
What is a face covering?
A face covering is used to protect others, rather than the wearer. A face covering is something that safely covers the wearers nose and mouth, this includes single-use face masks like our OptiPro Surgical Masks, and re-useable face masks that are usually made of fabric and can be washed and re-worn.
A face covering can also be a scarf, bandana, religious garment or home-made cloth covering, but they must be tight fitting over the nose and mouth.
Will my child be required to wear a face mask at secondary school?
Upon returning to school, in England, it is recommended that pupils in secondary schools wear face covering while moving around the corridors, in communal areas, and in the classroom, unless social distancing can be maintained effectively.
The use of face coverings outdoors while on school premises is not required due to the reduced rate of transmission when outdoors.
Will my child be required to wear a face mask at preschool or primary school?
Children under the age of 12, in preschool or primary school, do not need to wear a face covering, in line with the WHO recommendations for under 12s.
Will teachers and staff be required to wear a face mask at school?
All staff and adult visitors to an education setting will be required to wear a face mask or face covering when social distancing among adults is not possible. So, within a secondary school, teachers and staff will be required to follow the same guidance as pupils, which includes wearing a face covering in the classroom, corridors, and communal areas.
Within a primary school or preschool setting, it is recommended to wear a face covering when social distancing among other adults is not possible.
Are there any exemptions to mask wearing in schools?
The government have a detailed list of exception criteria, which can be accessed on the government website here.
Those who are exempt from wearing a face covering in schools includes:
- Pupils and staff who cannot put on, wear, or remove a face covering because of a physical impairment, disability, illness, or mental health difficulties.
- Pupils and staff who speak to or provide help to someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expression to communicate.
For more information and guidance on the use of face coverings in education settings, visit https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/face-coverings-in-education