If he can’t wear one he’s not going back: Parents join row over masks at schools

A mother has said she will not send her child to school if rules in England are not changed, and they are not allowed to wear a mask.

Amid increasing pressure, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has hinted that guidance which says face coverings are not required for schoolchildren in England could be changed – with some reports saying a U-turn has already been agreed by the Government.

World Health Organisation (WHO) advice says that children aged over 12 should wear masks, and secondary schools in Scotland will be given “obligatory guidance” for pupils to do so in corridors and communal areas.

Debra Kidd, 52, is from Saddleworth, near Oldham, Greater Manchester, where additional lockdown measures are currently in place amid a spike in coronavirus cases.

She said her son Sam, 13, has been told by Saddleworth School that children will not wear masks and will be expected to remove them at the front gates.

“We’ve complained about this and the school says it is following Government guidance,” she told the PA news agency.

“Our position is that if he can’t wear a mask, he’s not going back.”

Ms Kidd, a consultant, said a caretaker who was “greatly loved” by the children at her son’s school died with coronavirus, and students want to wear masks to protect the staff.

“They don’t want to lose another… they’re less worried about themselves,” she added.

“To my mind, the best solution would be for schools to strongly encourage them to be used so the waverers join in too… (teenagers) tend to go with what the majority does.”

PA has contacted Saddleworth School but has not yet heard back.

Chris Wallace, 46, from Cambridge, has one child at secondary school and two in year five at primary, and said she plans for them all to return to school wearing masks.

Asked what she will do if mask guidance is not changed, she told PA: “I honestly don’t know.

“The school has been great through this, good communication, clearly trying their best for the kids. I think the issue is that Government advice is really unclear.

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson

“I’m hoping they will make masks a recommendation, but failing that, clarify that individuals can choose to wear a mask.

“I don’t honestly believe they would force children and teachers to be at higher risk than every other group in society, they just haven’t thought it through properly.”

Mike Nixon, 49, is also from Oldham and does not have a child in secondary school, however, he said he would keep his nine-year-old daughter at home if mask-wearing was extended to primary schools.

“If this is the case she will not be going into school and we’ll figure out how to home-school her.

“This mask situation appears to be getting out of hand,” he told PA.