The following information can be found in the latest  Schools COVID-19 operational guidance unless stated otherwise. Direct quotes are in italics.

  1. Are face coverings required by pupils in schools?
  • Face coverings are no longer advised for pupils, staff and visitors either in classrooms or in communal areas The government has removed the requirement to wear face coverings in law but expects and recommends that they are worn in enclosed and crowded spaces where you may come into contact with people you don’t normally meet. This includes public transport and dedicated transport to school or college. However, bubbles have now been removed so it could be argued that dedicated transport to school is still with people the students “normally meet”
  • No pupil or student should be denied education on the grounds of whether they are, or are not, wearing a face covering.
  1. Are face coverings required by staff in schools?
  • Face coverings will also no longer be recommended for staff in classrooms.
    • If you have an outbreak in your school, a director of public health might advise you that face coverings should temporarily be worn in communal areas or classrooms (by pupils staff and visitors, unless exempt)In these circumstances, transparent face coverings, which may assist communication with someone who relies on lip-reading, clear sound or facial expression to communicate, can also be worn.

 As stated in Schools COVID-19 operational guidance the school has a duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled pupils to support them to access education successfully. Where appropriate, you should discuss with pupils and parents the types of reasonable adjustments that are being considered to support an individual.

  1. Do children have to wear face coverings when at external school activities?
  • This is no longer covered in the guidance. However as the legal requirement to wear face coverings has been dropped in all locations, children should not have to wear face coverings at external school activities.
  1. Can schools reintroduce face coverings?

Yes and No.

The school cannot reintroduce face coverings however, a director of public health can advise that they be reinstated

  • If you have an outbreak in your school, a director of public health might advise you that face coverings should temporarily be worn in communal areas or classrooms (by pupils, staff and visitors, unless exempt)..

Unfortunately, there is no guidance to determine the timeframes for “temporary”

A localised outbreak is defined as: If you have several confirmed cases within 14 days, you may have an outbreak.

Questions you can ask a school if they reintroduce face masks

  • As stated in the Face Coverings in Education guidance you can ask how they have evaluated the balance of drawbacks to education vs benefits of managing transmission?
  • You can ask to be provided with a copy of the risk assessment for the reintroduction of face coverings. This should cover the negative impact of masks on children as well as any potential benefit of masks being worn.
  • Has this response been advised by the local Director of Public Health as required by the guidance? Can you see a copy of the advice? What are the criteria for the outbreak being considered over?
Exemptions
These still apply in all education settings

Do mask exemptions apply in schools?

 Yes. Some children, pupils, students and adults may be exempt from wearing face coverings. These exemptions will apply in nurseries and childminders, schools and colleges, including educational visits.

Does my child need a medical exemption?

NO – there is no such thing as a medical exemption and your GP will not give you one.

If you have an age, health or disability reason for not wearing a face covering:

  • you do not routinely need to show any written evidence of this
  • you do not need to show an exemption card

This means that you do not need to seek advice or request a letter from a medical professional about your reason for not wearing a face covering.

The British Medical Association say there is no requirement for medical letters

The Government guidance suggests there is no requirement for evidence for exemption. It should be sufficient for someone to declare that they are eligible for an exemption direct with the person questioning them (eg bus driver).

Practices are therefore not required to provide letters of support for those who fall under the list of exemptions, or to those who do not fall under the list of exemptions.

https://www.bma.org.uk/advice-and-support/covid-19/gp-practices/covid-19-toolkit-for-gps-and-gp-practices/reducing-covid-19-transmission-and-ppe

 

Does my child have to wear a mask on educational trips?

 No, your child does not. Some children, pupils, students and adults may be exempt from wearing face coverings. These exemptions will apply in nurseries and childminders, schools and colleges, including educational visits.

 

Can schools discriminate against children who do not wear masks?

 Absolutely not!

 

Schools need to be supportive and inclusive

Please be mindful and respectful of such circumstances. Some people are less able to wear face coverings, and the reasons for this may not be visible to others.

 

Children cannot be denied education if they do not wear a mask

Children are not under any obligation to wear face masks, the Government said on Wednesday night, telling schools not to send pupils home if they refuse to wear one.   While masks and regular Covid tests are strongly encouraged, they are not legal requirements and pupils should not be “denied education” as a result of non-compliance, officials said. 

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/02/24/schools-told-not-punish-pupils-refuse-wear-masks/

Children are not legally required to wear face masks in schools and should not be sent home if they refuse to wear one, government officials said last night

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9297409/Children-NOT-legally-required-wear-face-masks-schools-officials-admit.html

It will not be compulsory for school pupils to take Covid tests twice a week, nor wear face coverings in class, the schools minister Nick Gibb has confirmed

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/feb/25/covid-tests-masks-not-compulsory-english-schools-nick-gibb