Gosforth Junior High Academy Statement Regarding Face Coverings
Following the Covid-19 pandemic, we are committed to ensuring that children return to school and formal education as quickly and as safely as possible. You will have already received our handbook regarding procedures and safety measures for a September return to school; work is continuing, behind the scenes, to ensure that pupils remain safe whilst continuing their learning.
There has been much debate, recently, regarding the use of face coverings in schools. The World Health Organisation (WHO) published a new statement, on the 21st August, advising that “Children aged 12 and over should wear a mask under the same conditions as adults, in particular when they cannot guarantee at least a 1-metre distance from others and there is widespread transmission in the area”.
In response to this announcement, on 26th August, the government stated:
“Nationwide, the government is not recommending face coverings are necessary in education settings generally because a system of control, applicable to all education environments, provides additional mitigating measures. Schools and colleges will have the discretion to require face coverings in communal areas where social distancing cannot be safely managed, if they believe that it is right in their particular circumstances.”
Having carefully considered this latest guidance, and the layout of our school premises, including areas where it will be particularly challenging for staff and students to maintain social distancing, the following decisions have been taken:
- Key Stage 3 pupils, and staff, are to wear face coverings in corridors, stairwells and communal areas. Face coverings should be worn on entry to the school building but can be removed once children have arrived at their lesson or break area. This way, pupils will only be required to wear face coverings for a short period of time each day.
- Key Stage 3 pupils, who are medically exempt from wearing face coverings, will not be required to wear masks but Key Stage Leaders must be informed of this medical exemption, from parents/carers, in advance of returning to school.
- Pupils do not need to wear face coverings in lessons as the control measures, in place, reduce the risk of transmission.
- Due to the layout of the school, and strict zoning areas, Key Stage 2 pupils do not need to wear face coverings. This is in line with the latest guidance regarding the use of face coverings for younger children.
The decision regarding the use of face coverings has not been taken lightly. Our local area is not one where transmission of the virus is currently high. We do feel, however, that the use of
face coverings, at key times within the school day, will provide staff, pupils and parents/carers with additional confidence with the full-reopening of the school from September.
It is important that face coverings are worn correctly to avoid inadvertently increasing the risk of transmission. This requires thorough cleaning of hands before and after touching face coverings and safe storage within individual, sealable plastic bags. Single use face coverings must be disposed of, responsibly, using the waste bins provided.
Please ensure that your child (if they are in Year 7 or Year 8) is provided with a plain face covering and appropriate bag for safe storage (if face covering is reusable) when they return to school in September.
Advice and guidance regarding face coverings, including how to make a face covering, can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/face-coverings-when-to-wear-one-and-how-tomake-your-own/face-coverings-when-to-wear-one-and-how-to-make-your-own
We feel this is a proportionate decision based upon current advice and guidance. This approach will be reviewed as we move through the term.
Principal of Gosforth Junior High Academy