Face masks in schools have only been in place for a few weeks. Lifting this measure before the impact on coronavirus transmission in schools has had time to be assessed would be rash.
First published in March 2021.
The introduction of face coverings in schools have made school support staff feel safer. Taking them away when infection rates are still high and rising in some areas would be a mistake, warned UNISON, the UK’s largest union, on Thursday.
According to a recent survey (22-24/03 March – among 7,363 school staff), 71% of teaching, learning and special needs assistants, administrators, lunchtime supervisors and facility staff in England believe face coverings in secondary schools are an important safety measure. 63% of them even say that face coverings make them feel safer at work.
The survey also found that 75% of secondary school staff say that their school has introduced face coverings for staff in class. An even higher number (84%) say pupils are wearing them in classrooms.
These findings are being sent to the government to inform its review of face coverings as a safety measure in schools and highlight the risk of removing them, particularly from classrooms.
UNISON head of education Jon Richards said: “Face coverings in schools have only been in place for a few weeks. Lifting this measure before the impact on transmission in schools has had time to be assessed would be rash. It could undermine the morale of staff, who see face coverings as an important protection at work.
“Efforts to keep pupils and staff safe will be in vain if safety measures are lifted too soon. Instead, prevention measures should be strengthened to avoid the need for closures, especially of primary schools.
“Removing the need for masks in schools could see a spike in cases. This is the last thing the country needs. It would be unfair on the staff taking risks every day, unfair on the children who’ve already missed out on months of education and unfair on the communities they serve.”
- Face coverings in education, March 2021 | Department for Education
▫ PMP News reporting.
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[This piece was first published in PMP Magazine on 26 March 2021. | The author writes in a personal capacity.]
(Cover: Flickr/Number 10. - PM Boris Johnson talks to pupils at Accrington Academy in Accrington. | 25 February 2021. / Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)