Do teachers have to wear face masks in school?


With teachers and pupils going back to school in September we frequently get asked whether teachers and pupils have to wear face masks when returning to the classroom.

Teachers and parents will understandably have concerns about health and safety and the risk involved. 

Currently, the government does not recommend the use of face covering in schools, as it says staff and pupils are kept in consistent groups, meaning risk is limited, and misuse could increase the risk of transmission. There are also concerns that masks could affect communication in classes.

The Department for Education (DfE) explains it will keep this evidence ‘under review.’ We will update this article if there are any changes to the government’s guidance.

We have also published another article which looks at the steps of fully reopening schools from September.

Teachers wearing face masks: what does the guidance say?

The DfE has published guidance on the full reopening of schools. It explains that the measures set out in the guidance provide a framework for school leaders to put in place proportionate protective measures for children and staff. 

It explains that the majority of staff in education settings will not require PPE beyond what they would normally need for their work. PPE is only needed in a very small number of cases, including:

  • Where an individual child or young person becomes ill with coronavirus symptoms while at school, and only if a distance of 2 metres cannot be maintained
  • Where a child or young person already has routine intimate care needs that involves the use of PPE, in which case the same PPE should continue to be used

The DfE says face coverings are “not recommended or required” in schools because pupils and staff are mixing in consistent groups, and because misuse may inadvertently increase the risk of transmission.

A DfE spokesperson said: “We have set out the controls schools should use, including cleaning and hygiene measures, to substantially reduce the risk of transmission of the virus when they open to all children from September. This does not include the wearing of face coverings as we believe the system of controls laid out adequately reduced the risk of transmission to both staff and students.”

Face masks: what are schools doing?

Neil Strowger, the chief executive officer of the Bohunt education trust, which has seven schools in the south-east of England, has said in an article on the Guardian: “We are encouraging our community to wear masks inside, as there is evidence to support their use, but we are clear that students and staff are not required to wear them.”

Little Community School in Derby explains that pupils will be allowed to wear a disposable/single-use face mask while in school.

If you are concerned about your school’s approach to face masks you can contact us for further advice and support.

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