Leeds City Council has clarified its position on face masks being worn in local schools.
The government had tweaked the rules for face coverings in schools in England last week, after coming under pressure to follow Scotland’s example, where older pupils will be required to wear face coverings in between lessons from next week.
However, in England this only applies to pupils in areas under lockdown restrictions.
Face coverings will have to be worn in communal areas of schools in areas where local lockdowns have been introduced, and headteachers will have the option to ask pupils to wear them elsewhere in the country.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said the change followed updated advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO) saying children aged over 12 should wear masks.
However, for those outside of the lockdown areas – such as Leeds – it has NOT been made mandatory for schoolchildren to wear masks, with individual schools having their own decision on whether they should be worn.
Director of children and families for Leeds City Council, Sal Tariq OBE, has stated that the council and school leaders have used the new guidance in their latest risk assessments.
Mr Tariq added that schools will inform students and parents directly if masks are required in their “individual school settings”.
He said: “The government announced last week that secondary schools and colleges have the discretion to request that their students and staff wear face coverings in communal areas where social distancing cannot be safely managed, if they consider it an appropriate measure to mitigate risk in their school’s unique and particular circumstances.
“School leaders and health and safety colleagues in Leeds have incorporated this new guidance into their risk assessments in order to help make informed decisions about whether this is required in their individual school settings.
“Schools will inform their students, parents and carers accordingly.”
Pupils in Leeds are expected back at school next Monday (September 7).
From this date, children who live in parts of West Yorkshire that are under lockdown restrictions WILL need to wear a mask in school.
Parts of the previously affected areas have had their restrictions lifted however many areas are still subject to strict measures.
The city of Bradford remains under lockdown and pupils will need to wear masks in schools – whilst some areas in West Yorkshire have made exceptions.
Those in Dewsbury and Batley also currently remain in lockdown whilst other areas are subject to measure.