All parents: information about face coverings
30 September 2020
Following the Prime Minister’s announcements on Tuesday 22 September 2020 in which he confirmed face coverings would become mandatory in a number of indoor settings from Thursday 24 September 2020, we have reviewed our COVID safety action plan and risk assessments. At present face coverings at Deer Park are optional and some pupils and staff choose to wear them, or visors.
The government guidance, ‘Face coverings: when to wear one, exemptions and how to make your own’, updated 24 September 2020, lists the places where you must now wear a face covering by law, including on public transport, in premises providing hospitality, visitor attractions such as concert halls, libraries, places of worship, community and youth centres. All of these are similar to the facilities we have in school.
While the government guidance for schools has not changed, and schools can still exercise discretion regarding the wearing of face coverings, we have taken account of the new instructions, consulted with staff and reconsidered where social distancing cannot easily be maintained within the school. Because our pupils are currently in year group bubbles based in home bases across the school site, any required movement to specialist areas or at break and lunchtimes is predominantly outside of our buildings. However, we recognise there are a few pinch points in the main building and, as the winter weather approaches, pupils may begin to spend more time in their designated indoor social spaces during their breaks and lunch times.
Therefore, from Monday 5 October 2020, we will expect all pupils and staff to wear face coverings in our corridors and inside communal areas.
The simple rule will be if you are standing up and you are indoors you will need to wear a face covering.
Pupils will routinely be asked to put on their face coverings at the end of each lesson before they move to another room within their year group bubble or to a specialist classroom in another part of the school or before they leave their classrooms at break, lunch time or after school.
Once outside the building pupils can remove their face coverings but they are expected to put them back on before re-entering the building. This also includes when they arrive first thing in the morning.
The reasons for doing this are three-fold:
- We feel that the increase in the national infection rates means that another preventative step is advisable: face coverings are largely intended to protect others, not the wearer against the spread of infection because they cover the nose and mouth, which are the main confirmed sources of the transmission of COVID-19;
- The wearing of face coverings by pupils, staff and visitors to the school in our corridors and communal indoor spaces will provide additional confidence to pupils, parents and staff;
- We have a wider responsibility to model the wearing of face coverings in school in our corridors and communal spaces so that culturally our pupils take these measures seriously, behave considerately and obey the law out of school.
Since we re-opened for all pupils in September, pupils and staff have complied with our preventative measures and responded positively to our hand and respiratory hygiene routines. We now expect everyone to do the same with face coverings and strongly advise pupils and staff follow the guidance on how to wear a face covering (see video below) and how to achieve good face covering hygiene.
Owing to the recent changes and the requirement to wear face coverings on public transport and in shops, we are aware that many of our pupils are already in possession of face coverings in school and this should help us ease the transition to wearing face coverings in our corridors and indoor communal spaces.
We strongly recommend everyone has a minimum of 3 washable face coverings (one on, one in the wash and one spare) or uses single-use face coverings.
We ask that all pupils have at least 2 face coverings on them in school each day. This is to ensure they have a spare in case one is lost.
All face coverings should securely fit round the side of the face and be of a design that is appropriate for school. A face covering is something which safely covers the nose and mouth. You can buy reusable or single use face coverings. You may also use a scarf, bandana, religious garment or hand-made cloth covering but these must securely fit round the side of the face.
We remind you that all face coverings should be stored safely in individual, sealable plastic bags between use.
We are unable to provide everyone with face coverings, but we do have a small contingency supply available for those who may have forgotten their face covering, or if it has become soiled or unsafe.
We remind everyone that the wearing of face coverings is not a replacement for social distancing or regular hand hygiene. These practices must continue.
The government are clear that it is not necessary for pupils or teachers to wear face coverings in classrooms during lessons as they may inhibit teaching and learning.
We recognise some individuals are exempt from wearing face coverings. This applies to those who:
- cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of physical or mental illness or impairment or disability;
- speak to or provide assistance to someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expression to communicate.
To help us achieve consistency and to ensure we can be sensitive to those who are exempt, we would be grateful if you could contact your son/daughter’s year leader if he/she is unable to wear a face covering for any reason so that we can advise colleagues accordingly and save any embarrassment. The government are aware that some who are exempt may feel more comfortable showing something that says they do not have to wear a face covering and have, therefore, provided some exemption card templates.
Thank you for your cooperation and understanding.
Chiquita Henson, Headteacher