Boris Johnson facing revolt from teachers over failure to back masks in schools
Boris Johnson faced a teacher revolt over face masks in England’s schools as heads vowed to make kids cover up in corridors.
And despite calls from teaching union chiefs to consider the proposal a senior minister once again rejected the calls.
It came as it was confirmed that Scottish secondary school pupils will have to wear face coverings in corridors, communal areas and school buses from next Monday.
Education Secretary John Swinney said the new guidance would apply to all pupils aged over 12.
Mr Swinney told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “From August 31st young people over the age of 12 in secondary schools should habitually be wearing face coverings when they are moving around schools and corridors and in communal areas where it is difficult to deliver the physical distancing.”
But ministers in London are continuing to resist the change, Business Secretary Alok Sharma told the BBC: “We are always considering the latest advice and evidence but Public Health England current advice is that it is not recommended to wear face masks in schools.”
But, signalling schools which ordered kids to cover up would not face punishment, he added: “I don’t think we want to go down the road of penalising people – this is about what makes sense.”
Boss of the Oasis Academy chain Steve Chalke tweeted: “Oasis has booked face visors & masks for all our school staff & masks (colour coded for year groups) for our secondary students for transition in corridors etc. We’re also booking extra space (offices, church halls etc.) for a number of our schools.”
Citing the Prime Minister’s latest advice on how to protect against Covid-19, he added: “Think ‘Hands, Face & Space.’”
Secondary schools in Scotland will be given “obligatory guidance” that pupils should wear face coverings when moving around schools from Monday, Scotland’s Education Secretary confirmed.
Latest World Health Organisation advice suggests adults and children aged 12 and over should wear a mask, particularly when they cannot guarantee at least a one-metre distance from others and there is widespread transmission in the area.
The WHO and UN children’s agency Unicef suggested face shields may be an alternative in situations such as speech classes where the teacher and pupils need to see each other’s mouths.
The Association of School and College Leaders general secretary Geoff Barton said: “We would expect the Government in Westminster to review its guidance on the use of face coverings in schools – which currently says they are not required – in light of the WHO guidance and the consultation taking place in Scotland.
“The evidence is clearly evolving on this issue and it is important that it is kept under review and that clear direction is provided to schools.”
Gateshead’s public health chief Alice Wiseman told the BBC: “As we have said all the way through this, the science is always emerging and at the moment we are following the guidance predominantly from Sage and the Chief Medical Officer regarding compulsory face coverings.
“But it is my intention to have a broad discussion with the headteachers in Gateshead to actually see what would work best for them and also for their (pupils’) parents.
“We know that if worn properly face coverings can reduce the risk, but we’d need to make sure they’re not used as an alternative to the most effective prevention measures such as social distancing, robust hygiene arrangements, bubbles and also staggered start and end times so we don’t have young people or parents congregating all at the same time.”