Petition Make wearing face masks mandatory in secondary schools and colleges.
The government has recently announced that schools and colleges are to reopen in full in September, meaning that in many cases, social distancing may not be observed. In order to protect our children, face masks should be made mandatory for all secondary education.
Though face masks are already being worn voluntarily by some, this is not enough as masks are only effective in preventing the spread of Covid19 from those who are infected but will not protect individuals wearing them from infection, so should be made mandatory to reduce infection. The British Medical Association has called for face coverings to be made mandatory in all indoor settings. The government should be listening to the experts. Cloth homemade masks could be used ensuring the NHS would not be deprived of PPE.
This response was given on 12 November 2020
Our approach to face coverings is based on current evidence. Under national restrictions face coverings should be worn in schools and colleges teaching year 7 and above in indoor communal areas.
The Chief Medical Officers from all four nations in the United Kingdom have made it clear that the benefits to children of being in school or college outweigh the low risk from coronavirus (COVID-19).
The Department for Education has worked closely with Public Health England to develop a system of controls to reduce the risk of transmission in schools. This system of controls includes use of face coverings in schools where recommended. When implemented in line with a revised risk assessment, these measures create an inherently safer environment for children and staff where the risk of transmission of infection is substantially reduced.
At each stage of its response to the pandemic, the Government has listened to and acted on the latest medical and scientific advice. As the prevalence of the virus across the country and communities changes, the Government has always been clear that it will not hesitate to take swift and decisive action to control the virus and save lives.
Under new national restrictions from 5 November, in further education institutions and schools teaching year 7 and above, face coverings should be worn by adults (staff and visitors) and pupils when moving around indoors, such as in corridors and communal areas where social distancing is difficult to maintain.
On the basis of current evidence, in light of the mitigating measures education settings are taking, and the negative impact on communication, face coverings will not generally be necessary in the classroom even where social distancing is not possible. There is greater use of the system of controls for minimising risk, including through keeping in small and consistent groups or bubbles, and greater scope for physical distancing by staff within classrooms.
Further information on the system of controls and face coverings guidance for schools can be found as part of our guidance for full opening: schools on gov.uk.
The measures set out in our guidance provide a framework for school leaders to put in place proportionate protective measures for children and staff, which also ensure that all pupils receive a high quality education that enables them to thrive and progress.
Department for Education
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