To ask the Secretary of State for Education, for what reason the latest guidance for schools and colleges about face coverings does not address the issues about which the Secretary of State was in correspondence with the National Deaf Children's Society in October 2020; and if he will make a statement.
10 February 2021
The Department’s guidance on face coverings can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/face-coverings-in-education/face-coverings-in-education.
As the guidance outlines, during national lockdown, in schools where Year 7 and above are educated, face coverings should be worn by adults, such as staff and visitors, pupils, and students. Face coverings should be worn when moving around indoors, outside of classrooms, such as in corridors, and in communal areas where social distancing is difficult to maintain.
Based on current evidence and the measures that schools are already putting in place, such as the system of controls and consistent bubbles, face coverings will not generally be necessary in the classroom.
Children in primary schools do not need to wear a face covering.
Some individuals are exempt from wearing face coverings. This includes people who cannot put on, wear, or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness, impairment, or disability, or if you are speaking to or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate. The same legal exemptions that apply to the wearing of face coverings in shops and on public transport also apply in schools.
Face coverings can make it more difficult to communicate with pupils and students with additional needs or those who may rely on lip reading or facial expressions for understanding. We expect staff to be sensitive to these needs when teaching and interacting with pupils and students.
The Department continues to provide information to the sector on our guidance, and any changes to it, through regular departmental communications. The Department will also continue to work with Public Health England, as well as stakeholders across the sector, to monitor the latest scientific and medical advice and to understand the impact of the system of controls on staff, pupils and parents.