Pupils refusing to wear masks in school following new measures

Pupils refusing to wear masks in school following new measures

Some pupils in England are refusing to take lateral flow tests and wear face coverings in classrooms as they head back to school.

The government says schools “can decide how best to encourage” pupils to take tests and wear masks.

The Department for Education (DfE) stressed that pupils should not be “denied education” on the basis of whether or not they wear a mask.

It has previously said it is determined to keep schools open, despite more staff absences being expected.

Pupils in England have been asked to take in-school Covid tests before heading back into class this week, and to wear face coverings in lessons. However, these are recommendations and are not mandatory.

While some parents and children feel face masks have a negative impact on their learning, others are worried about the more vulnerable students.

A Year 8 pupil in West Yorkshire told the BBC that some children in her school were refusing to wear face coverings.

“A teacher will say ‘can you please put your masks on?’ And they’ll just say ‘no, we don’t need to wear masks, we don’t want to wear them’,” she said.

“There were a few people the other day saying that when we passed them in the corridor.”

She said it made pupils feel “more unsafe”, and that vulnerable classmates were at particular risk.

A DfE spokeswoman said the temporary advice to wear face coverings in lessons aimed “to help reduce transmission and disruption to learning and maximise attendance”. She pointed out that pupils of secondary school age and above are advised to test twice a week at home.

“Schools know their pupils best and can decide how best to encourage them to wear face coverings and take Covid tests,” she said.

“No-one should ever be denied education on the grounds that they are, or are not, wearing a face covering.”

The government’s own study in the autumn did not provide proof of a statistically significant impact of wearing masks in schools.

The evidence review says other studies have provided mixed results but taken together suggest masks may help.

When the measures were introduced on January 2 many concerned parents commented on an article published by Gi Media sharing their view on the matter.

One parent commented: “One rule for one, another rule for another. If the pupils have to wear a mask so should the teacher.”

Another shared their anger at the new measure, stating: “My kids will not be going to school if they are made to wear a mask all day in class, not a chance.”

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Ellie joined Gi Media in July 2021.