Call to Action – masks in schools
Please email the Department for Education as per the text below.
(copy your own MP as required)
Dear Department for Education
I am a parent and a member of campaign group UsforThem. We remain concerned about the impact on children of the imposition of masks in secondary schools. Since the Government initially allowed discretion to headteachers to impose masks on children in secondary schools in September, despite the medical advice that the evidence was ‘not strong in either direction’ we have embarked on a very slippery slope. Many schools are now compelling children to wear masks in classrooms as well as in corridors and communal areas. A recent randomised controlled trial from Denmark now adds weight to the previous opinion shared by Jenny Harries that the evidence for mask-wearing is weak. I link the study for you here.
Weak evidence should not result in a compulsion, particularly when we have no evidence that mask-wearing for children will not cause harm.
Further, a recent publication in Nature, calls into question the notion of significant asymptomatic transmission upon which mask interventions are predicated. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-19802-w
In summary, the mask intervention for children is unnecessary, ineffective and has no evidence of innocuity.
Below are some specific concerns:
1 IMPACT ASSESSMENT
The Government has not assessed the impact of face masks on children. We cannot say with any certainty that this intervention will ‘do no harm’. It appears that there has been no attempt to evaluate harms before making the recommendation. A recent Cochrane review notes the worrying lack of research into the harms of non-pharmaceutical interventions. https://www.cochranelibrary.com/…/14651858…/full
2. WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION (WHO)
The Government justified their recommendation of face masks for children by citing the WHO guideline. However, within the same guideline, the WHO states that when authorities recommend masks for children, they should also gather and monitor data on the impact of the intervention on children’s health and education outcomes as well as on transmission. UsforThem has submitted FOI requests, and it seems that neither the Department of Education nor the Department for Health has followed this recommendation. This omission is very concerning. Do you plan to address this omission and put a monitoring programme in place?
3. EXIT STRATEGY
What is the exit strategy for removing this measure in schools and revoking discretion for headteachers to require masks for children?
4. SLIPPERY SLOPE
How is the Department for Education responding to schools who are going beyond the guidance by compelling masks in classrooms or imposing masks for primary age children? How is the Department for Education ensuring that the wellbeing and education of children are not compromised? We are now aware of children not attending school because of the requirement to wear masks.
Please can you advise us when you will be reviewing the current set of recommendations and providing a clear timeline for removing the mask intervention for children in schools? Given the weak evidence, we trust you will resist calls to extend the requirement any further.