Teachers in Herts won’t have to wear face coverings in staff areas
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School staff in Hertfordshire will not be asked to wear face masks in the staff room or during meetings – despite council bosses having asked for similar measures in care homes.
Care home staff were been asked to wear their facemasks and other items of ‘personal protective equipment’ (PPE) in staff rooms and back office spaces in June.
Before then they would routinely take off their face masks and other items of PPE whenever they were not in direct contact with residents.
But the county council’s director of adult care asked them to keep them on amid concerns asymptomatic staff were unwittingly spreading the virus to colleagues and residents.
School staff mix and meet in staff rooms in a similar way, but the county council has confirmed they will not be asked to wear face masks in the same way.
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Increased hand washing, teaching pupils in ‘bubbles’, one-way systems and staggered start times, are among the measures that have already been implemented in schools to stop any spread of COVID-19.
Schools can recommend that children aged 12 and over use face coverings in indoor communal areas – such as corridors – where social distancing cannot be safely managed.
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But the county council says it will not be recommending that teachers and other school staff wear face masks in staff rooms or in meetings.
Cllr Tim Hutchings, the county council’s cabinet member for public health and prevention, says this reflects the roles of teaching and care staff.
“We do not require staff in schools to wear face coverings in classrooms, offices and dining rooms in the same way as carers as they are not carrying out the same kind of nursing duties,” he said.
“Teachers don’t have to touch the children at all in most cases and it is unlikely they will be leaving classrooms for breaks as the children have to remain in small bubbles for breaks and lunchtimes.”
Commenting more generally on the use of face masks in secondary schools, Cllr Hutchings said: “Schools have the discretion to require face coverings in communal areas if they believe that it is right in their particular circumstances for staff and students Year 7 or above.
“This should only be when moving around the school, i.e. in corridors and communal areas where social distancing is difficult to maintain.”
“It will not be necessary to wear face coverings in the classroom, where protective measures mean that risks are lowered, as they can inhibit learning.
“Some children and young people will be exempt from wearing face coverings, especially those certain health conditions and disabilities.”