Trade union calls for secondary schools to reintroduce face coverings for pupils

The measure is being proposed to help tackle a regional rise in Covid-19 cases.

Thursday, 10th June 2021, 2:24 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th June 2021, 2:26 pm

Unison wants high schools across the North West, including in Wigan, to recommend pupils continue to wear masks.

Greater Manchester has requested the right to continue with face coverings in schools and public health experts say they have advised head teachers to keep them.

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Pupils wearing face coverings in school. Photo by Getty Images

And a survey by Unison of members working as support staff in North West high schools found 53 per cent of respondents said face coverings were not being encouraged and half said only a minority of young people were wearing them following the change in guidance.

In addition, a huge majority (86 per cent) of the school support staff surveyed thought face coverings should return as a national recommendation for staff and secondary school pupils if cases of the new Delta variant of Covid continued to rise in schools.

The trade union said the highest rates of Covid-19 in many areas are among young people, with the majority of cases in Greater Manchester being among 16-to-29-year-olds.

Unison North West regional organiser Keith Bradley said: “It is completely nonsensical for the Government to scrap face coverings for pupils in secondary schools, when reports are clear that there is a significant spread of the virus among school-age children.

“School support staff have put themselves at increased risk this year to ensure that our children continue to receive an education during the pandemic. They are scared about a new and dangerous wave of Covid cases.

"Pupils, staff, their families and the wider community deserve to be protected.

“We are calling upon school leaders in the North West to use the discretion they have under current government guidance to actively encourage pupils to wear face coverings.

"Protecting school support staff also protects children, parents and the wider community.

Four education unions have also signed a national letter calling for masks to be reinstated.

The unions that have signed the joint statement are Unison, the GMB, Unite and the National Education Union (NEU).

They called for a range of safety measures to be implemented to keep education on track and reduce the risk of further school closures.

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