The government has instructed schools not to send children home from school if they refuse to wear a face covering or take a coronavirus test. Ministers said that while masks and tests are strongly recommended, they are not a legal requirement and schools must not deny pupils an education for non-compliance.
On Monday, Boris Johnson said that secondary school pupils would have to wear masks during classes. He also stated that they would need to take two lateral flow tests a week. Last night ministers said that these measures are strictly voluntary and that no student should be kicked out if they refuse.
Parents had reacted angrily to Monday’s guidance. Hundreds contacted the campaign group UsForThem. Co-founder Molly Kingsley told The Telegraph:
“It’s great that children will be back in school, but it should not be at any price and certainly not at a price as grave as this. Face masks are an untested intervention and one that many respected academics and doctors have raised serious concerns about from a psychological point of view but also due to the potential physical harm and the long-term effects of face coverings on brain development and educational attainment.”
Parents across the country will be breathing a sigh of relief this morning. This is a significant climbdown by the government. Wearing a facemask eight hours a day could kill a child. That is no exaggeration. Every head teacher in the country should now declare that their classrooms and corridors are mask free zones.