Face Masks (Originally sent as an email 1.9.2020)
Dear Parents Carers
On Tuesday 25 August 2020, the government changed their guidance to schools on the use of face coverings. The changes focused on two key aspects
Whilst Wembury had already made the decision for staff to wear masks, in communal areas, this has now become a directive from WeST.
This guidance applies only to communal areas where mixing of staff, parents and pupils from different year groups, is likely to occur, especially where social distancing is difficult. For our pupils this largely applies to corridors and journeys to and from school.
It does not apply during lessons. This is because the pupils are only mixing with other pupils in their same class bubble, at that time. If teachers do move between bubbles, they are expected to keep a 2-metre distance in class from the pupils. With enhanced cleaning, hand sanitisation and various additional measures, inc. appropriate ventilation, we feel that the risk in class is reduced sufficiently that face coverings are not required. Although, we will allow staff and pupils to wear them if they wish. For Teaching Assistants that are unable to maintain a 2-metre distance, face coverings and visors are available for them to use in class.
We do understand the polarised public opinion that exists currently regarding the use of face coverings. We are also aware that much conflicting information exists in both the media and the scientific community.
We are adhering to the view held by the government which states: “Coronavirus (COVID-19) usually spreads by droplets from coughs, sneezes and speaking. There is also increasing evidence that airborne transmission can occur, especially in crowded and poorly ventilated spaces. These droplets can also be picked up from surfaces, if you touch a surface and then your face without washing your hands first. This is why social distancing where possible, regular hand hygiene, and covering coughs and sneezes is so important in controlling the spread of the virus. The best available scientific evidence is that when used in the appropriate circumstances, wearing a face covering may reduce the spread of Coronavirus droplets, helping to protect others”.
There is also increasing evidence, that although thankfully the risk of serious illness amongst children is very low, they can catch and transmit the virus more readily as their age increases.
As mentioned above, we have adopted a wide range of protective measures to reduce the transmission risk of COVID-19 in our school. However, despite these measures, there are still occasions where social distancing is very difficult, such as in corridors or busy communal areas, given the constrictions of our building and site. In these areas the risks to pupils, parents and staff increases.
Our approach regarding face coverings can be summarised as:
Face coverings do not need to be worn:
We fully adhere to the following government advice regarding exemption:
In settings where face coverings are required in England, there are some circumstances where people may not be able to wear a face covering. Please be mindful and respectful of such circumstances, noting that some people are less able to wear face coverings, and that the reasons for this may not be visible to others.
This includes (but is not limited to):
Our aim here is simply to provide a further layer of protection to pupils, parents and staff, specifically in communal areas, where risks are higher. We believe this additional measure will further contribute to reducing the chances of an outbreak, and subsequent temporary closure of our school. The health and safety of all is paramount, as is protecting our ability to maintain a quality educational provision at this difficult time. Staff greeting children at entrances will be expected to wear a face mask. (Please ensure it is named.) Hopefully children are now more familiar with others wearing masks, so this will not be as daunting as it used to be.
We have kept use of face coverings in our school to a minimum for both pupils and staff. Most of the school day is spent in lessons, where face coverings are not required. Whilst you may not agree with our decision, we hope you can understand why we have taken the action we have. Should you wish your child to use a face mask within communal areas, they are welcome to do so, as per guidance previously forwarded to all parents. A link for documentation can be found here:
We are looking forward to getting back to some form or 'normal' routine, and to see all children and families.