Schools in open revolt over masks

Schools in open revolt over masks: 多于 100 headteachers write to parents saying face coverings MUST stay as they blame staff shortages or Covid cases – but government CAN’T do anything to stop them

  • Schools across England are in open rebellion against Government over masks
  • 多于 100 head teachers have said children must still wear face coverings
  • It also emerged that the Government can’t do anything to stop schools
  • Teaching unions are threatening to derail PM’s easing of Covid restrictions
  • Embattled Tory leader is accused of making decision to save his own career
  • The National Education Union warned against lifting Omicron curbs ‘too quickly’
  • Has your child been sent home for refusing to wear a mask? 电子邮件: jack.wright@mailonline.co.uk
  • Schools across England are in open rebellion against the Government over masks as more than 100 head teachers write to parents warning that children must continue wearing face coverings in classrooms.

    Union bosses stoked the fires of revolt this week after accusing Boris Johnson of flouting his ‘duty of care’ to teachers over the new guidance on masks.

    The Prime Minister this week announced an easing of Covid curbs, from WFH guidance to face coverings and Covid isolation, as the Omicron wave subsides.

    But critics have claimed that Mr Johnson is axing virus restrictions to appease his Tory backbench and save his own skin as he fights for his political career amid the dramatic fallout from ‘Partygate’.

    Schools are defying the Government’s anti-mask guidance and telling parents that pupils must continue to wear face coverings.

    And it has now emerged that ministers will not stop schools from forcing children to wear face coverings.

    Has your child been sent home for refusing to wear a mask?

    电子邮件: jack.wright@mailonline.co.uk

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    Head teachers across the country say that they are struggling either with staff shortages or high rates of Covid in the local community – and argue that masks in classrooms will stem the spread of the virus.

    New data from the UK Health Security Agency shows that the rate of new Covid cases among primary schoolchildren in England rose 41 per cent in the week to January 16 至 1,936 的房子 100,000 five to nine-year-olds.

    Schools North East, a network in the North East of England, 说过 80 per cent of schools in the region planned to retain some Covid-related measures, with many secondary schools retaining face masks in classrooms and communal areas.

    Head teacher Andy Byers, who runs Framwellgate school in Durham, also said masks were still needed because Covid rates in the region remained high.

    Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi last night said that local officials would seek to persuade individual schools to abandon masks.

    He insisted that ‘face-to-face education for all students has consistently been my priority’, 加: ‘National guidance to wear face coverings in communal areas will also be removed in line with the national move out of Plan B. This applies to all schools’.

    But in a letter to MPs, he admitted that masks could be reintroduced in the event of an ‘extraordinary’ local Covid outbreak.

    A DfE insider told MailOnline that the Government does not have a legal mechanism to force schools to follow the new guidance on dropping masks.

    ‘The guidance that we’ve got on dropping face masks in line with Plan B is exactly that: guidance,’ they claimed.

    Schools across England are in open rebellion against the Government over masks as more than 100 head teachers have written to parents warning that children must continue wearing face coverings in classrooms (档案图片)

    Schools across England are in open rebellion against the Government over masks as more than 100 head teachers have written to parents warning that children must continue wearing face coverings in classrooms (档案图片)

    Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi last night said that local officials would seek to persuade individual schools to abandon masks. But in a letter to MPs, he admitted that masks could be reintroduced in the event of an ‘extraordinary’ local Covid outbreak

    Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi last night said that local officials would seek to persuade individual schools to abandon masks. But in a letter to MPs, he admitted that masks could be reintroduced in the event of an ‘extraordinary’ local Covid outbreak

    Parents have launched a campaign to prevent ‘overzealous’ schools from imposing masks

    Parents have launched a campaign to prevent ‘overzealous’ schools from imposing masks

    UsForThem campaigner Molly Kingsley

    Parent group UsForThem has urged its supporters to bombard Mr Zahawi with letters to ‘stop overzealous local public health authorities from unilaterally implementing face masks in schools’ (图为, campaigner Molly Kingsley)

    The Prime Minister this week announced a dramatic easing of Covid curbs, from WFH guidance to face coverings and Covid isolation, as the Omicron wave subsides

    The Prime Minister this week announced a dramatic easing of Covid curbs, from WFH guidance to face coverings and Covid isolation, as the Omicron wave subsides

    So what is changingand when will it happen? Your guide to the post-curb rules as Boris Johnson announces the end of Covid Plan B restrictions

    IMMEDIATELY

    WORKING FROM HOME

    The Prime Minister said the Government is no longer asking people to work from home. He called on people to speak to their employers about arrangements for returning to the office.

    FROM YESTERDAY

    MASKS IN SCHOOLS

    From yesterday, secondary school pupils will not have to wear face coverings in classrooms.

    The requirement to wear masks in corridors and other communal areas will end next Thursday, 一月 27.

    FROM NEXT THURSDAY

    MASKS IN PUBLIC PLACES

    From next Thursday, the Government will no longer legally mandate the wearing of face coverings in shops and on public transport.

    But they will continue to suggest masks should be worn in enclosed and crowded places where people could come into contact with those they do not normally meet.

    The Prime Minister said this meant the Government will ‘trust the judgment of the British people and no longer criminalise anyone who chooses not to wear one’.

    COVID PASSPORTS

    Proof of vaccination or a recent negative test will no longer be needed to enter nightclubs and large venues from next Thursday.

    But businesses will still be free to use the NHS Covid Pass if they want.

    BY THE END OF THE MONTH

    TRAVEL

    An announcement is expected soon on scrapping the requirement for fully vaccinated travellers to take a Covid test on returning to England.

    没有 10 said the rules will be reviewed by the end of January.

    CARE HOMES

    Plans to ease restrictions on care home visits will be announced in the next few days. 现在, care homes must impose severe restrictions on visitors for up to 28 days if there has been a Covid outbreak affecting two or more residents.

    BY MARCH AT THE LATEST

    SELF-ISOLATION

    Boris Johnson said he ‘very much expectsnot to renew the legal requirement to self-isolate with Covid when the rules lapse on March 24.

    He said this could happen even earlier, if the data allows.

    The legal requirement will be replaced with guidance that urges people with the virus to be careful and considerate of others.

    BY JULY

    FREE TESTS

    Free Covid lateral flow tests look set to be scrapped by July.

    People will be pointed towards an online ordering system to purchase the tests, which cost £30 for a pack of seven.

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    ‘We do expect schools to follow it, but we do not have a legal mechanism to coerce schools into doing so. We do, 然而, expect that if schools do want to keep face masks, there would be a good reason for doing so.

    ‘We want to work with and support schools, and not take punitive action against them.’

    在今天早上的一轮面试中, Cabinet minister Kwasi Kwarteng said schools should follow the official guidance on mask-wearing.

    The Business Secretary told Sky News: ‘The guidance from the Prime Minister is very clear: that we won’t need to be wearing masks.’

    Chris Zarraga, the director of Schools North East, 告诉卫报: ‘Schools are still facing real challenges in getting staff cover, increasing staff workload and stress and impacting negatively on wellbeing.

    ‘There are serious concerns for schools, with local pictures often radically different from the national picture.’

    Shuttleworth College in Burnley told parents it would ‘not be removing any of our measures in school at this time’, citing high Covid cases.

    Uckfield College in East Sussex said it was keeping masks in force ‘for now’ on the basis that the ‘last thing students want at the moment is more staff absence’.

    The Commonweal School in Swindon told parents to ‘ensure that your child brings a suitable mask to school each day’.

    其他, including Oxted School in Surrey and Droylesden Academy in Manchester, said they wanted to wait until they had been sent official guidance from the DfE – despite this being published on Wednesday.

    And St Peter’s Church of England Aided School in Exeter told parents masks must still be worn in lessons as ‘Covid has not gone away’. They added that wearing face coverings is a ‘kind and thoughtful’ way to support the community.

    But the National Deaf Children’s Society has warned that schools which choose to impose masks risk flouting the Equality Act.

    Mike Hobday, the society’s director of campaigns, 告诉MailOnline: ‘Government guidance in England does not recommend masks are used by teachers or pupils in class.

    ‘If schools choose to go against this recommendation, they would need to be confident that they have taken all the action needed to ensure they are complying with the Equality Act so that disabled children can access teaching and learning.

    ‘Unless these reasonable adjustments are made, there may be little point in deaf children even going to school.’

    And Arabella Skinner, a director of parent campaign group UsForThem, 告诉《电讯报》: ‘As we have seen throughout the pandemic, schools often go far beyond the recommendations and beyond what the rest of society is required to do.

    ‘In the case of masks being removed from class, we had over 100 schools raised with us who are choosing – against government guidance – to keep masks in class.’

    Teaching unions yesterday accused the Prime Minister of scrapping masks for political reasons, not scientific ones.

    The National Education Union claimed that lifting Omicron curbs ‘too quickly’ could lead to ‘more disruption’ for schools.

    Geoff Barton, general secretary of the ASCL, 警告: ‘There is a danger that we are heading once again for a situation in which the Government gives the impression that the crisis is over when in actual fact there is huge disruption continuing to take place in education.’

    The NEU’s Dr Mary Bousted called the removal of masks ‘premature’, 加: ‘Rather than announcements aimed at saving Boris Johnson’s job, (的) Government should be exercising a duty of care to the nation’s pupils and the staff who educated them.’

    In a draft letter for parents to send their local MPs and the Education Secretary, the UsForThem group warned: ‘To reverse the damage, the new guidance you issue must be extremely strongly worded indeed.

    ‘You should certainly forbid local authorities from unilaterally implementing face masks in schools.

    ‘In some US states where governors have banned mask mandates, they have protected children by making legal provision for parental opt-out.’

    It comes as a recent poll by parent voice charity Parentkind found that nearly two thirds of parents of secondary school children are not in favour of masks in the classroom. There was less opposition among parents to coverings in communal school areas.

    Has your child been sent home for refusing to wear a mask?

    电子邮件: jack.wright@mailonline.co.uk

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    In a statement to the Commons on Wednesday, Mr Johnson announced WFH guidance would be dropped immediately and rules on masks in schools would also be scrapped as of Thursday. Other restrictions including compulsory face coverings on public transport and in shops, and Covid passes for entry to nightclubs and large events will end next Thursday.

    And the legal requirement for people with Covid to isolate will also be allowed to lapse when the regulations expire on March 24.

    Mr Byers told parents the PM’s Plan B U-turn ‘creates some difficulty for us’.

    ‘Case rates in the northeast are still relatively high. We currently have 60+ students and ten staff absent, having tested positive. A small proportion of those people have been quite poorly,' 他说.

    ‘Other local secondary schools are all in a similar position: high levels of absence with some students missing important face-to-face teaching, and a reliance on supply teachers covering lessons.

    ‘For this reason I would like to encourage students to continue wearing face coverings for the next two or three weeks until (希望) case numbers fall.’

    A spokeswoman for school leaders’s union NAHT admitted that there is ‘some concern’ about the easing of Plan B measures.

    Its general secretary Paul Whiteman said: ‘The Prime Minister’s statement about lifting plan B measures will feel, to many school leaders, at odds with the current situation on the ground.

    ‘Mass disruption is ongoing, with high numbers of staff and pupils absent. School leaders are telling us they still feel very much in the eye of the Covid storm.’








    Quarter of small businesses will stick with WFH until at least APRIL 2023, new report says, despite change in Government guidance, because of substantial savings of not having to pay for office space

    A quarter of small businesses will stick with working from home until at least April 2023 despite a change in Government guidance, a new report has said, because of the substantial savings of not having to pay for office space.

    Firms with fewer than 50 employees are saving an average of nearly £4,000 a month by not having to pay for an office, according to research from Hitachi Capital Business Finance, and are likely to stick to working from home well into next year.

    It comes after Boris Johnson ordered Government departments to get their civil servants back into the office ‘as soon as possibleas he demanded they set an example to the country after lifting working from home restrictions.

    然而, a survey of more than 1,000 small business owners has found that one in four had plans to continue working entirely from home until at least April next year, while a similar number were planning hybrid working.

    Joanna Morris of Hitachi Capital Business Finance said: ‘As the worst of the pandemic hopefully begins to fade, and the option of returning to a fixed workplace is put back on the table once again, we might expect to see most taking up this option and returning to ‘normal’.

    '然而, this research reminds us that it may not be the perfect solution for everyone.

    ‘As with every business decision that owners make, particularly over the past 18 月, a range of factors need to be taken into consideration first, with the bottom line understandably often given a heavier weighting.

    ‘The one positive that has come from this particularly challenging period has been the requirement to be far more flexible and open minded than ever before, with changes to the business that will reap benefits in the long term.

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    Willingdon Community School in Eastbourne, 东萨塞克斯郡, also wants its pupils to continue wearing masks.

    Head teacher Emily May said: ‘Our students have been fantastic wearing masks since October 2021 and understand that this small act of kindness is helping to keep our community safe.

    ‘We still have significant Covid infections within the school community and a 10 per cent rise of Covid cases in this local area.

    ‘It is not sensible to relax this measure yet. 然而, we do appreciate that each school needs to be able to make their own decision based on their school context and it needs to be reviewed regularly.’

    Children at Hanley Castle High School, 伍斯特郡, have also been told to keep wearing face coverings.

    Lindsey Cooke, the head teacher, 说过: ‘I do think this was a very rushed announcement.

    ‘Our year 11 and year 13 exam groups have missed so much school already; what we do not want to do is to rush into taking masks off and then get another outbreak in those year groups.’

    But other teachers welcomed the end of masks in schools. Joseph Sparks, an assistant principal at Stationers’ Crown Woods Academy in Greenwich, 伦敦, today called face coverings a ‘barrier to learning’.

    他告诉天空新闻: ‘We welcome the change here at the academy and ultimately we will follow the advice and guidance given to us by the DfE. And as you can see from the students in this particular class, they’ve opted not to wear one this morning.

    ‘But we’ll leave that choice to them, and for us at the academy, it’s about making them safe and making sure their learning experience is a seamless one and can continue as normal as possible.’

    Pressed on why masks can be a ‘barrier to learning’, 他解释: ‘I had an example yesterday where I was teaching a class, and I didn’t know who had answered the question.

    ‘Sometimes it can be a bit of a barrier like that to that social interaction that takes place, and knowing which students might need help. Ultimately we’ve left that choice to the students from this point.’

    Mr Sparks added: ‘Our job is to keep the students as safe as possible. We’ve taken lots of measures over the course of the various lockdowns to ensure that our students remain safe.

    ‘We’ve been really fortunate… our students have continued to come to the academy every day, we’ve had really had attendance.’

    Britain’s top medics have also insisted that scrapping Covid curbs at such pace ‘risks creating a false sense of security’ with the NHS still under pressure.

    Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the British Medical Association council, 说过: ‘This decision clearly is not guided by the data. When Plan B was introduced in December, 曾经有 7,373 patients in hospital in the UK. The latest data this week shows there are 18,9791.’

    He warned that ending mandates on mask-wearing would ‘inevitably increase transmission’ and place the most vulnerable at a higher risk.

    And Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation representing health bodies, said now ‘is not the time for complacency about this virus’.

    Deputy chief executive of NHS Providers Saffron Cordery said that some trusts had reported they were expecting their peak later this week despite a fall in case numbers nationally due to regional variations in the number of hospital admissions.

    ‘That’s why it’s important that there is recognition that this surge isn’t over, and that the health service is still operating under extremely challenging circumstances,’她补充说.

    It comes after Covid cases fell in most parts of the UK for the first time since early December, 通胀上升至.

    Has your child been sent home for refusing to wear a mask? 电子邮件: jack.wright@mailonline.co.uk.