Last Friday, 21 August, the World Health Organisation changed its advice for 12 year old children (and older), with regard to the use of face masks in certain settings:
“Advice on mask use in children and adolescents 12 years or older should follow the WHO guidance for mask use in adults and/or the national mask guidelines for adults. Even where national guidelines apply, additional specific considerations (see below) and adaptions for special settings such as schools, during sport, or for children with disabilities or with underlying diseases will need to be specified.”
The World Health Organisation guidance on using masks can be found here. Although not applicable to schools at this stage, the Government has also published guidance on how to wear face coverings and this can be found here.
Whilst other regions of the UK are moving towards mask wearing at social times such as during lesson change, the Department for Education as the decision making body for England is unmoving on its guidance that masks need not be worn in schools. Given its recent record on last-minute changes, we want to ensure that our school community has time to respond to any change in requirements for school attendance regarding mask wearing.
At the start of term from 2 September onwards, we will be asking all students to wear face coverings at lesson change time. The rationale is that we have been asked to create safe year group bubbles. This is the case during lessons and lunch times. The Local Authority have taken considerable pains to ensure that age groups are segregated from each other on school transport. The only time where there is risk of cross infection between bubbles (year groups) is at lesson change.
We are therefore asking all students to bring in a face mask and plastic bag to keep it in, and to wear it when moving around the school from one lesson to another. If any families are struggling to access masks, we will do our very best to help out. Any student with a medical condition or special educational need which exempts them from mask wearing will obviously be exempt from this requirement.
We will also be encouraging teachers to use face coverings, probably visors, during their lessons. We understand that face masks would be impossible for students with hearing impairments who rely on lip reading. This is why we are encouraging the use of visors instead.
We will add this amendment to our Risk Assessment which will be re-published on our website before the start of term.