Posted: Fri 28th Aug 2020

Deeside secondary schools ask pupils to wear face coverings when they return next week

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Friday, Aug 28th, 2020

Pupils at Connah’s Quay and Hawarden High schools are being asked to wear face coverings when they begin returning to school next week.

Both schools have issued an update in the past 24 hours recommending that students wear a face covering when on school transport, in corridors and in communal areas during break and lunchtimes.

In an update, Hawarden High School said that following the “national announcement regarding the change to the latest technical advice surrounding face coverings, we recommend that all Hawarden High School students now wear a face covering when on school transport, on the corridors and in communal areas during break and lunchtimes upon their return to school.

We ask that parents/carers provide a mask for your children and encourage them to secure them hygienically and safely in a disposable or re-sealable plastic bag when not required.  This is not mandatory, but we feel it may help further mitigate the risk of any potential spread of the virus.”

Connah’s Quay High School tweeted an update today:

The move comes after The World Health Organization (WHO) issued guidance last week saying children over the age of 12 should wear masks.

Following advice from its Technical Advisory Group, the Welsh Government said it was handing responsibility for deciding whether face coverings should be worn in schools over to councils and schools themselves.

Ministers said the use of masks was being recommended for pupils aged 11 and over in settings where social distancing can’t be maintained, such as school buildings and buses.

However, they stopped short of making it mandatory, meaning the final decision should be taken at a local level.

In a joint statement on Wednesday, Health Minister Vaughan Gething and Kirsty Williams, Minister for Education said:

“The current advice from the Chief Medical Officer for Wales is that face coverings are recommended for all members of the public over 11 years in indoor settings in which social distancing cannot be maintained, including schools and school transport.

We will amend our operational guidance for schools and FE to require settings and local authorities to undertake risk assessments of their estates to determine if face coverings should be recommended for their staff and young people in communal areas. This will also include school and college transport.

As part of the risk assessment we recommend that staff, students, families and unions are engaged.”

The Welsh Government decision not to mandate the wearing of face coverings in secondary schools rattled opposition parties and teaching unions who said they had passed the buck.

Conservative MS Suzy Davies, the Shadow Minister for Education said: “The announcement by the Health and Education Ministers is the worst of both worlds, putting the responsibility on the shoulders of schools and councils, while trying to absolve itself of responsibility for the decision.”

Teachers union NAHT Cymru has said headteachers should not be put in the position to decide on whether their pupils need to wear face masks.

Laura Doel, NAHT Cymru Director said: “It is unacceptable that school leaders are expected to shoulder the responsibility of deciding if face coverings are required in schools.
Headteachers are not medical experts and the Welsh Government should not put them in this position.”
Flintshire council confirmed its position today, Claire Homard, Chief Officer, Education and Youth said:
“Neither schools or the council have powers of enforcement as the wearing of face-coverings is not mandated however, all Flintshire schools are expected to comply with our position which is:-
-Strongly recommended that face coverings are worn by secondary pupils where school risk assessments identifies their need because it is difficult to maintain other controls e.g. social/physical distancing in congested communal areas

-We acknowledge there will be 11 year olds in primary schools so the use of face coverings for this age group is an individual school decision based on its own risk assessment.

-Strongly recommended that face coverings are worn on dedicated school transport by secondary pupils

-It is the responsibility of the parent to provide face coverings

-It is the responsibility of students to wear face coverings appropriately and store them safely during the school day

-It is not a requirement for schools to provide face coverings for staff involved in routine activities. Appropriate PPE packs are provided in every school for use in first aid or emergency situations or managing the needs of individual pupils.

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