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Pupils: Hearing Impairment

Question for Department for Education

UIN 152656, tabled on 10 February 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what guidance his Department has issued on the use of clear face masks in schools to allow deaf children to be able to better communicate in those settings during the covid-19 outbreak.

Answered on

24 February 2021

Guidance for schools for the period of national lockdown can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak.

The Department has published updated guidance on face coverings in education from 8 March 2021, which can be found at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/face-coverings-in-education/face-coverings-in-education.

As our updated guidance outlines, where pupils in Year 7 and above are taught, we recommend that face coverings should be worn by adults and pupils when moving around the premises outside of classrooms, such as in corridors and communal areas where social distancing cannot easily be maintained.

In addition, we now also recommend that face coverings should be worn in classrooms unless social distancing can be maintained. We are recommending this precautionary measure for a limited time during this period of high COVID-19 prevalence in the community.

In primary schools, face coverings should be worn by staff and adult visitors in situations where social distancing between adults is not possible, for example, when moving around in corridors and communal areas. Children in primary school do not need to wear a face covering.

Some individuals are exempt from wearing face coverings. This applies to those who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability, or if you are speaking to or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expression to communicate. The same exemptions should be applied in schools, and we would expect teachers and other staff to be sensitive to those needs.

Transparent face coverings which may assist communication with someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expression to communicate, can also be worn. There is currently very limited evidence regarding the effectiveness or safety of transparent face coverings, but they may be more effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19 than not wearing a face covering at all.

We continue to work closely with Public Health England and the Department of Health and Social Care and stakeholders across the sector to ensure that our policy is based on the latest scientific and medical advice

These measures will be in place until Easter. We will keep this under review and update guidance at that point.

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