ASCL comment on PM’s announcement on face masks in schools and colleges

10/05/2021
Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders comments on the Prime Minister’s announcement about face masks in secondary schools and colleges.
 
Commenting on the Prime Minister’s announcement about face masks in secondary schools and colleges, Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

We recognise that there are arguments both for and against pupils wearing face masks in classrooms. It is therefore doubly important that any decision over their continued use should be based firmly upon scientific advice. However, the government’s decision to relax the rules around face masks in secondary schools and colleges is hard to reconcile with evidence published by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies on Friday. This evidence quite clearly said that it was important to maintain the current mitigation measures in schools, including mask wearing, in the coming months. 

“It is obviously better for communication and learning if masks aren’t required in classrooms, but any decision to this effect must follow the scientific advice, and it is very worrying that the government’s decision appears to contradict the published evidence. This is particularly troublesome in light of the fact that a Covid strain first detected in India has recently been declared a “variant of concern” by Public Health England as this would suggest the need for greater caution. 

“It seems to us that school and college leaders are once again being placed in a very difficult position because many parents and staff will obviously feel that pupils should continue to wear masks regardless of what the government thinks. For the sake of a few more weeks all this unnecessary anxiety could have been avoided and we don’t understand why the government is in such a rush over this issue.”