“As the Council’s Executive Member for Education, Children and Families, I’m strongly recommending the use of face masks in secondary schools to limit the transmission of coronavirus ahead of the return of children to school.
I would also like to see the use of face masks for adults in primary and special schools, including parents who are visiting, whenever it’s not possible to socially distance.
I’m extremely disappointed by this government for not strongly recommending the use of masks, especially as the transmission numbers are again going in the wrong direction. The government’s Department for Education has side-lined Public Health and though the council has no powers to enforce mask wearing we will do everything we can to challenge government, and demand that they are more pro-active with safety. After lobbying by local councils and the unions, this government has agreed to CO2 monitors being issued to state run schools. This is a welcome U-turn, but government needs to go further and invest in proper ventilation systems.
The evidence is clear from the World Health Organisation – they state that masks should be worn when one-metre distancing cannot be guaranteed and there is widespread transmission. The government should listen to the evidence as mask wearing helps protect students and staff.
Unfortunately, this government have consistently failed to give parents and schools the clarity needed, and instead of proper leadership they have repeatedly passed the buck back to schools. Our children and young people have had so much of their education disrupted and the government should be doing everything they can to ensure that they return to as safe an environment as possible. Every consideration should be given to those students and staff who may be vulnerable, or who have relatives who are, to be in the school as safely as possible.
After speaking to headteachers and unions across the city, it’s clear that many are keeping in place a lot of the measures, such as staggered lunch breaks, limiting assemblies and holding staff meetings remotely. We will continue to work with all our schools and share emerging best practice, across the city, over the coming months to support full access to education for all our children and young people”.
Councillor Jayne Dunn, Sheffield Executive Member for Education, Children and Families