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11.05.2021 | By paul_simpson

DfE guidance on face coverings in education in England has changed

Posted in News

Ian Noon from the National Deaf Children’s Society has provided this useful summary of changes in Government advice about face coverings issued today, Monday 10th May 2021.

For info, DfE guidance on face coverings in education in England has changed.

  • From 17th May, it will no longer be recommended that face coverings be worn in classrooms by either pupils or staff
  • It will still be recommended that face coverings be worn by staff and visitors outside of classrooms where social distancing cannot be maintained.  This recommendation does not apply to pupils.
  • Children and young people over the age of 11 are still required to wear face coverings on school transport, unless exempt.
  • FE providers are able to recommend face coverings should be worn by young people in vocational settings (e.g. a training kitchen).
  • Where there is a “particularly localised outbreak”, face coverings may be reintroduced for a temporary period.

One other key change in the guidance is in the text on transparent face coverings. We had been pressing DfE to take a more positive and encouraging tone in this area, and we are pleased that guidance now refers to the potential benefits of such coverings. (Note from BATOD – we too wrote to the Department for Education to make the same point.)

Where our guidance recommends face coverings, transparent face coverings, which may assist communication with someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expression to communicate, can also be worn. Transparent face coverings may be effective in reducing the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). However, the evidence to support this is currently very limited. Face coverings (whether transparent or cloth) should fit securely around the face to cover the nose and mouth and be made with a breathable material capable of filtering airborne particles.

The main benefit from a transparent face covering is that they can aid communication, for example enabling lip-reading or allowing for the full visibility of facial expressions, but this must be considered alongside the comfort and breathability of a face covering that contains plastic, which may mean that the face covering is less breathable than layers of cloth.

Text around reasonable adjustments (and the need to consult with pupils and families), and allowing face shields/visors to be worn as an alternative to the exemption is still in the guidance.

The full text of the guidance can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/face-coverings-in-education

NDCS has also updated its coronavirus blogs to reflect these changes:

For parents:

Schools and other education settings

Face masks and communication

For professionals

Education