The news that face masks will be dropped in classrooms in advance of the wider release of Plan B restrictions in England is welcome.
We must never again subjugate the wellbeing of children to adults’ – or teaching unions’ – political interests.
How does the Department for Education now propose to remove face coverings from classrooms and ensure that our children have the schooling they deserve: face to face, without arbitrary impingements on their communication and with the full breadth of educational experience?
To reverse the damage, the new guidance you issue must be extremely strongly worded indeed and you should certainly forbid local authorities from unilaterally implementing face masks in schools. In some US states where governors have banned mask mandates, they have protected children by making legal provisions for parental opt-out.
After all, even the most militant proponents of cloth masks now admit that they have little to no utility.
Dear Ms ,
Thank you for your letter on behalf of UsForThem Cymru regarding the use of face coverings in schools. I am responding on behalf of the Welsh Government.
In November I announced the plan for the operation of schools for the Spring Term, this included additional intervention measures such as the use of face coverings to ensure schools could safely remain open and to help reduce the spread of the Omicron variant. The recommendation on the use of face masks in education settings came as advice from the four Chief Medical Officers, based on their use as part of a suite of mitigating measures, and advice provided by the Technical Advisory Group, available here.
Following the First Minister’s announcement on the plan for Wales to move from Alert Level 2 to Alert Level 0, I published a Written Statement to provide an update on school operations and the Welsh Government’s Director of Education wrote to all head teachers on 25 January regarding operational arrangements this term. It includes the continued use of face masks in schools and colleges. Our aim is to maximise learning whilst minimising the disruption to education. Case numbers are high among children and young people, even if the affect is less, and so it is vital that schools and settings follow the Operational Frameworks.
I appreciate that this decision will not be popular with everyone. However, until the evidence supports it and the Framework and guidance for schools is reviewed as part of our 21 day review, the recommended use of face coverings in schools and settings will remain, except for those who are exempt, just as it is for most indoor public spaces under Alert Level 0. I will confirm the position for schools following the next review point.
Thank you for contacting us and outlining your concerns. Now that we have moved to Alert Level 0, you will be able to find the latest announcements here, and further information on the operational arrangements for schools can be found in the FAQs on our website, these will be regularly updated.
Jeremy Miles AS/MS
Gweinidog y Gymraeg ac Addysg
Minister for Education and Welsh Language