Children’s Commissioner refuses to rule out the compulsory wearing of face masks in classrooms after Holmes Chapel Comprehensive School in Cheshire unilaterally decided that ‘on the balance of probability’ students and staff would be safer wearing coverings.
Navy blue reusable coverings costing three pounds will be viewed as ‘part of the uniform’ and be embroidered with the school’s initials.
The mandatory use of masks goes beyond the government’s coronavirus guidance, which does not compel them to be worn in schools.
Downing Street refused to give ground to intense pressure from Labour and union bosses who called for enforced coverings when children go back to lessons next month.
Schools minister Nick Gibb said that in education settings children and staff are mixing with the same people every day, unlike in shops.
But Ms Longfield, who does not have the power to mandate the wearing of masks, told BBC Breakfast: ‘Certainly we know the risk both of children catching the infection and of course transmission for younger children, primary and nursery, is very, very low.
‘It’s still low for secondary school aged children, but there may be some children who may feel more comfortable with a mask on. So I don’t rule it out.
‘I don’t think it’s something that should be a blanket introduction as yet, unless the scientific advice is to do so, but if it means schools stay open and people have confidence I wouldn’t want to rule it out either.’