Mask Wearing At school
Sorry, bit of a long one but I thought I'd share the email I sent to my son's school following a newsletter outlining their position on face masks
As you are aware, we have always been in favour of the use of face-coverings and therefore ask that all students, who are not exempt, wear a face-covering on buses, in corridors, indoor communal areas and in classrooms. The government has now followed suit. We encourage their use, however, we understand and are sensitive to the fact that some students may not be able to wear a face-covering and will not want to share their circumstances with peers; please remind your child of that and also that the safe wearing of face coverings requires cleaning of hands before and after touching – including to remove or put them on. The safe storage of them in individual, sealable plastic bags between uses is also necessary. We do share some of the governments concerns of the impact on learning and of possible misbehaviour but saw none of that in the Autumn Term, thankfully. Face-coverings should be plain, without slogans or messages, we reserve the right to ask a student to change a mask for a plain one that we will provide should it be deemed inappropriate for school. Please stress the importance of complete cooperation with staff under these stressful circumstances
My initial email (sent Mon 1st Mar):
I am really disappointed and concerned to read in the latest bulletin that you will be enforcing the wearing of face coverings in classrooms in addition to communal areas when the children return to school. Whilst I appreciate the desire to follow government guidelines, I believe the government has got it very wrong on this issue and a number of headteachers have publicly expressed a similar opinion - I suspect the reason this is 'guidance' rather than mandatory is because it is there purely to appease those somewhat loud voices that seem to believe our children should carry on remote learning indefinitely.
I see no reason to increase the use of masks given that the case numbers, hospitalisations and deaths are falling fast, the vaccine is being rolled out at speed and our children will be tested for Covid-19 twice every week. The numbers are now at the level they were at the beginning of October and are likely to be even lower by the time the children are back at school - in the government press conference tonight it was stated that the vaccine is having a dramatic effect on cutting the risk of serious illness and hospitalisation.
My main concern is the mental and physical health of the children as a result of covering their faces for long periods of time - my son has a long bus journey each day and will therefore be wearing a mask for effectively 9.5 hours per day. This is inevitably going to have a negative impact on social interaction, engagement in learning and anxiety levels. There is also the potential physical impact from breathing stale air all day and bacterial infections - they are still just children after all and will invariably be fiddling with their masks getting all kinds of dirt and germs trapped underneath them.
My Year 7 child has gone from being really excited to be returning to school to now wanting to stay at home. All our children have been through a huge amount of trauma over the past year so surely we should be looking for ways to make their return feel as normal as possible - they will already be subject to twice weekly intrusive testing, which I appreciate is necessary, but will be adding on extra layers of stress.
For the sake of our children's long term mental and physical health, I would urge you to reconsider this policy, particularly given that we are in a far better position than last term from a pandemic perspective
Their response (Wed 3rd Mar):
thank you for your email. We are really looking forward to welcoming back our students after the latest lockdown.
In terms of face coverings, schools are required to minimise the risk of the transmission of Covid 19, to this end we follow government guidance. The latest guidance released on February 22nd with regards to face coverings, states
'Ensure face coverings are used in recommended circumstances (link to the government website)
Where pupils in year 7 (which would be children who were aged 11 on 31 August 2020) and above are educated, we recommend that face coverings should be worn by adults and pupils when moving around the premises, outside of classrooms, such as in corridors and communal areas where social distancing cannot easily be maintained. Face coverings do not need to be worn by pupils when outdoors on the premises. In addition, we now also recommend in those schools, that face coverings should be worn in classrooms or during activities unless social distancing can be maintained.'
I thought this was a totally cop out and didn't actually address any of my concerns, so I replied with this on the same day:
Thank you for your response, I am aware of the detail within the guidelines. My questions/concerns are more about whether you have given full consideration to the broader implications of this guidance in terms of mental health, physical health and the children's ability to communicate with each other and engage in face to face learning effectively. The fact that it is guidance, means that it is within your gift to decide how to apply it and in what circumstances based on what is right for your school and the children in your care.
If you have indeed weighed up all the pros and cons and decided that the wearing of face masks in classrooms is necessary then I am happy to agree to disagree with your conclusions, however I would at least like some reassurance that your decision has been carefully considered.
I have yet to receive a response, however I can only assume that means they have not spent any time considering the pros and cons and are blindly following guidelines regardless of the broader impact.
This has annoyed and upset me for many reasons, however I feel like I am between a rock and a hard place. The school is a highly sought after, selective grammar school so I feel their attitude is basically like it or lump it. My son is really stressed about the whole thing, but I know he will just comply as he is even more terrified of not fitting in or being told off. Anyone want to join me on a remote island somewhere where I don't have to put up with the nightmare we have been plunged into and, most of all, the people perpetuating this utter madness?!
Is there anyone in his class who feels similar? Maybe he can pair up with them in mask refusal defiance. Might make it psychologically easier for both of them. Could get him to see it as character building. Difficult if he's not that way inclined though.
On an associated point you may wish to know that the mayor of the German city Tübingen, Boris Palmer, announced on Tuesday 2nd March that the city had performed more than 15,000 Covid quick tests in schools with zero positive tests. This result fully justified his opening of schools and indicated that other restrictive measures were not necessary.
The link to the original (German) article is here:
Good on you for raising your concerns to the school.
My question to you is the sentence " children will be tested twice weekly which I understand is necessary"?
Personally I think any testing on children is unnecessary and abusive.
I will not give my consent for mask wearing and will teach coping strategies for any peer pressure as I will not have my children keeping this rubbish going. I would rather home school and am very vigilant of what is said to the children in school.
I was horrified with the political leanings with the online lessons I assume to brainwash them with the new world order green policies and global.warming and skipped those completely and taught other lessons instead.
I will not have my children coerced and bullied into seeing this lunacy as normal. It's not.thry will have no tests in school or at home.
I hope you have success with the school but I doubt they will move away from the government narrative so the choice is with you accept it and comply or stand up and say no.
It's infuriating and upsetting isn't it. We also raised our concerns with school and their tone was helpful but the expectation is that our child would be given a lanyard. So you can simply exempt yourself, no questions asked, but I find the idea of a lanyard really offensive: why should someone have to make a show of having an exceptional reason not to wear a mask when the reason actually is that they are pointless and dehumanising and clearly only being imposed as a placebo for hysterics. What on earth does it teach our children that something with absolutely minimal effect on disease transmission is lauded simply to calm the stupid and provide a sop to virtue signallers? It teaches them that the stupid get what they want by wailing and stamping their feet. Hardly a lesson we should be wanting children to learn.