Girl loses court fight against Sheffield school for ‘requiring’ pupils to wear masks

A 12-year-old girl has lost a High Court fight against her school for “requiring” pupils to wear face coverings, after claiming they risk causing “serious harm” to children’s physical and mental health.

By Lloyd Bent
Wednesday, 5th May 2021, 5:31 pm

The pupil brought legal action against the Tapton Academy School Trust, which runs a number of primary and secondary schools in the Sheffield area, to stop it from “requiring or encouraging” children to wear masks at school to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The schoolgirl, known only as AB and who has been exempted from wearing a mask at school, said mask-wearing could lead to “long-term” harm.

At a remote hearing last month, AB’s lawyers asked the High Court to grant an interim injunction preventing her school and the trust from making children wear masks.

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

The case was concluded at the High Court on Wednesday May 5.

However, the trust argued that its policy “is to encourage, not to enforce” the wearing of masks in order to protect children, staff and visitors.

The court previously heard that 120 members of staff across the trust’s various schools, representing more than 10% of its total staff, had contracted coronavirus since the end of August 2020.

In a judgment on Wednesday, Judge Roger ter Haar QC rejected the request for an injunction, as the pupil is not required to wear a mask and the injunction was not necessary to protect her health and safety.

The Royal Courts of Justice building, which houses the High Court of England and Wales

He said: “The case as presently put forward by the claimant suffers from a fundamental defect: the school does not require the claimant to wear a mask – she has been treated as being exempt from that requirement.”

The judge said he made “no conclusions whatsoever as to the safety or otherwise of requiring children to wear face masks at school”.

AB’s lawyers had provided a report from a chartered health and safety practitioner about problems children may face wearing masks, as well as a report from a clinical psychologist about psychological risks of a mask-wearing policy.

Judge ter Haar continued: “Put shortly, the underlying premise of the claim is that the physical and psychological risks presented to children by the requirement to wear face masks is not justified by medical or epidemiological evidence."

He added that witnesses’ views “do not represent universal scientific and medical views as to the scientific and medical merits, disadvantages and dangers of the wearing of masks in schools”.