Watering down guidance on the use of face masks in classrooms could lead to a third wave of Covid cases, the NASUWT teaching union has warned, The Telegraph reports.
Students in secondary schools and colleges in England are currently advised to wear face masks in enclosed spaces such as corridors and classrooms where social distancing cannot be maintained, but the Government has promised to review this measure in advance of the summer term.
Three quarters of 4,000 NASUWT members surveyed by the union support secondary school pupils being required to wear face masks in the classroom.
The findings were published on the final day of the NASUWT’s virtual annual conference this Easter weekend.
It came after the leaders of five education unions, including the NASUWT, called on the Government not to “rush into” removing face masks from class without careful consideration of the scientific evidence.
Dr Patrick Roach, general secretary of the NASUWT, said: “There is a real risk that the success of the vaccination programme to date, the easing of the lockdown and the reduction in current case numbers could lead to ministers being tempted to relax the Covid control measures in schools after Easter.
“In our view this would be a mistake. Ministers must model the behaviour they want to see in maintaining discipline and adherence to Covid safety measures.
“Relaxing the rules in schools would send a message to pupils and parents that the threat of Covid has passed at a time when extreme caution is still needed.”
The Government has said a decision will be made “shortly” on any potential change to face mask advice.