Secondary school pupils will be advised to wear masks in at all times when in classrooms be for the first weeks they open the government has announced.
The plans are part of the government’s roadmap to ease the covid-19 restrictions in England.
This first steps of course, include the reopening of both primary and secondary schools to all pupils from 8 March.
The government roadmap states: “The government recommends that the use of face coverings in higher education, further education and secondary schools is extended for a limited period to all indoor environments – including classrooms – unless 2m social distancing can be maintained.”
However, The National Deaf Children’s Society said that wearing the masks in the classroom could have a “devastating” impact on deaf pupils’ ability to take part in lessons.
There are currently over 35,000 deaf pupils in England.
The charity’s head of policy Ian Noon said: “The government cannot make an announcement and expect this to be enough,”
He continued: “It must move quickly to show exactly how it will guarantee deaf children can still access their lessons.”
However, today, (Thursday 25 Feb), Education Minister Nick Gibb said that the wearing of face coverings in secondary schools was not compulsory and just ‘highly recommended’.
He told BBC Breakfast: ‘We are saying it is not mandatory for schools to have masks in classrooms but it is highly recommended because we want to do everything we can to reduce the risk of transmission in the school.
‘So there is twice-a-week testing of students, staff as well.
‘We have all those measures in place – hand hygiene, the cleaning of surfaces, the ventilation, staggered lunchbreaks and play times – all those measures designed to minimise the risk of infection and transmission within the school.
‘And this is one more measure just to help reduce that where you can’t have social distancing in a classroom.’