The current guidance on masks exemptions in schools (England)

The following information can be found in the latest Schools COVID-19 Operational Guidance dated January 2022

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1048357/220119_Schools_guidance_January.pdf

Direct quotes are in italics.

From 20 January, face coverings are no longer advised for pupils, staff and visitors in classrooms. From 27 January, face coverings are no longer advised for pupils, staff and visitors in communal areas.

From 27 January, staff and pupils should follow wider advice on face coverings outside of school, including on transport to and from 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).

 

  1. Do mask exemptions apply in schools?

Yes, mask exemptions do apply in schools.

There are some circumstances where people may not be able to wear a face covering. 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.

In relation to education settings, this includes (but is not limited to):

  • people who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
  • people for whom putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause severe distress
  • people speaking to or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate
  • to avoid the risk of harm or injury to yourself or others
  • you are also permitted to remove a face covering in order to take medication.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1044890/Schools_guidance_January_2022_.pdf

 

  1. Does my child need a medical exemption?

NO – there is no such thing as a medical exemption for face coverings in a school setting or otherwise 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.

However, some people may feel more comfortable showing something that says they do not have to wear a face covering. This could be in the form of an exemption card, badge or even a home-made sign.

Carrying an exemption card or badge is a personal choice and is not required by law.

 

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 directly 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.

Read full statement

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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 of primary school age and early years children should not be advised to wear face coverings.

The use of face coverings may have a particular impact on those who rely on visual signals for communication. Those who communicate with or provide support to those who do, are exempt from any recommendation to wear face coverings in education and childcare settings.

You have 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.

In all cases any educational and wellbeing drawbacks in the recommended use of face coverings should be balanced with the benefits in managing transmission.

No pupil or student should be denied education on the grounds that they are not wearing a face covering.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-local-restrictions-in-education-and-childcare-settings/contingency-framework-education-and-childcare-settings#contingency-planning

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

No pupil or student should be denied education on the grounds that they are not wearing a face covering.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1044968/SEND_guidance_06012022.pdf