The UK government is questioning the necessity of keeping face coverings mandatory in secondary schools for pupils in England.
Fighting to end mandatory face coverings
Boris Johnson is expected to make an official statement this coming Monday regarding whether or not masks will be required to be worn in classrooms after Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson, is fighting to get rid of them.
Mr. Williamson said the government planned to remove face coverings as part of some of the restrictions that are expected to be loosened in light of the forthcoming third phase of the roadmap out of lockdown:
As infection rates continue to decline and our vaccination programme rolls out successfully, we plan to remove the requirement for face coverings in the classroom at step three of the road map.
Removing face masks will hugely improve interactions between teachers and students, while all other school safety measures will remain in place to help keep the virus out of classrooms.
As it stands currently, face masks in schools are recommended when adequate social distancing cannot be maintained—but not mandatory in any case. However, a group of unions and scientists believe it is much too early to ease off on basic safety measures that protect us from the virus.
Apprehension by many
A letter has been sent to Mr. Williamson urging him to reconsider his stance on face coverings in schools as teachers, support staff, parents and students alike are concerned of the risks of developing long COVID. The letter said:
To strip these necessary protections, when there are already too few mitigation measures in schools, and when rates of Covid-19 are still significant, would have consequences for the health of our children and their parents as well as their communities.
Representative for the National Education Union, Kevin Courtney, explained:
Everyone is looking at the data and I think some schools will continue to use face masks after May 17 and the NEU would support schools in making that decision.