Mask rule encouraged in Barnsley schools, despite government advice to ditch face coverings

Barnsley pupils are being advised to keep wearing face masks in school over fears of a new coronavirus variant- despite the government’s relaxing of the rules.

Wednesday, 19th May 2021, 9:25 am

Prime minister Boris Johnson announced that face coverings are no longer required in classrooms, or in communal areas in secondary schools and colleges from this week.

However, Barnsley’s director of public health, Julia Burrows has supported headteachers in recommending that face coverings are still worn.

Barnsley currently has a rate of 40 cases per 100,000 population, above the UK average of 23.

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Mask wearing.

A joint letter signed by Ms Burrows and Mel John Ross, executive director of children’s services has been sent to schools in the borough this week, advising headteachers that masks are still supported for pupils, and staff.

Ms Burrows says she wants Barnsley to be in a “good position” in the run-up to the summer holidays, and reduce the risk of transmission in schools and colleges.

“This means that for the remaining period of the school term I am supportive of Headteachers choosing to maintain that face coverings should still be used for pupils, students, and staff in classrooms or communal areas in all schools and FE providers,” she added.

“In all schools and FE providers face coverings should continue to be worn by staff and visitors in situations outside of the classrooms where social distancing is not possible.

“Pupils have become familiar with the use of face coverings and for a period of nine weeks until the end of term, it feels sensible to encourage their continued use if schools wish to do so.”

Ms Burrows added: “As the restrictions are slowly eased, we need to be as cautious as possible to ensure that community transmission remains low. The continued use of face coverings will support our approach in doing this.

“It is also important to recognise that some pupils and staff may be exempt from wearing face coverings.”