The guidance states that face coverings should be worn by staff in areas where social distancing might be a challenge when moving around the premises. The guidance also states that children aged 12 and upwards should also wear face coverings in these circumstances.
I am sure many of you will join with me in concerns around face coverings in a school which caters for students with social and emotional difficulties. For many of our boys, face coverings can be quite menacing and make the business of understanding and communicating feelings difficult. For that reason the guidance is also clear that it will not always be appropriate for students to wear face coverings dependent on their needs.
Due to the fact that much of our accommodation is located outside and around the site for boys in the upper school, much of the travel between lessons and activities for staff and students is in outdoor areas. We have taken a great deal of care to plan movement around the site so that groups of staff and students can be avoided during transitions. Research denotes that transmission is greatly reduced in the open air.
Therefore students aged 12 and above in general are not in situations where face coverings are required. Where parents and students remain concerned we do accept that boys may choose to wear face coverings. We don’t discourage this and are happy for any student to wear a face covering if they choose.
Times were boys are together and inside the building are generally during meal or snack times. Due the fact that boys have to eat and drink we’re not requiring boys to wear masks at these times. Break time activities are outside, where possible, and social distancing is being encouraged. Face coverings are also available for boys at these times.
Lower school students (under the age of 12) remain taught in small groups or bubbles so that transmission can be avoided. The guidance in very clear that staff are not required to teach in either phase wearing face coverings but rooms should be well ventilated. Every precaution is being taken to enable this to happen, weather permitting.
As face coverings are now so widely used across the country, pupils may bring in their own masks but where this isn’t possible, school will provide a supply of disposable masks for students to use.
I have also attached two useful posters around the correct use of face coverings for your information.
Please do not hesitate to contact the school should you wish to discuss this further and please be assured that we will continue to respond to all current guidance to keep our school environment as safe as we possibly can.