Leading Conservative MP Criticises School Mask Mandate as Damaging to Children’s Mental Health

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 31: Pupils at Rosshall Academy wear face coverings as it becomes mandatory in corridors and communal areas on August 31, 2020 in Glasgow, Scotland. New rules starting today require children over 12 to wear face coverings in corridors and other communal areas in schools in Scotland. …
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Prime Minister Boris Johnson faces opposition from amongst his own Conservative MPs over the government’s recommendation that children wear masks in classrooms if they cannot socially distance, with leading backbencher Sir Graham Brady warning it will cause psychological damage and disrupt learning.

British children are set to return to school on Monday, with secondary school pupils (aged 11 to 18) recommended to wear masks where social distancing is not possible, including possibly in the classroom. Secondary school children will also be asked to take three ‘lateral flow’ tests at school and two every week at home, involving swabbing the back of the throat and also the inside of the nose.

The Telegraph reported on Thursday that 32 Conservative MPs are calling for the mask recommendations in classrooms to be dropped after the Easter holidays. In a letter written by MPs to the Prime Minister, the lawmakers said that it was “just not good enough” to impose the measures on millions of children.

The letter was signed by Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 Committee, which consists of all backbench Conservative MPs (those who hold no governmental roles). It was also signed by members of the lockdown sceptic Covid Recovery Group (CRG), including Brexiteer Steve Baker.

Sir Graham told The Telegraph that “requiring children to wear masks in the classroom will damage their education and inhibit their communication with teachers and with their peers.”

“The psychological damage being done to young people who need to see each others’ faces to communicate with each other is immense,” the senior backbencher said.

“By the time schools come back after Easter we should be able to look forward to a very low risk environment and a sensible reduction in Covid measures,” he added.

Department for Education (DfE) officials have said that “no pupil should be denied education on the grounds that they are not wearing a face covering”.

However, reports have claimed that some schools allegedly threatened to order children who do not wear masks to go home and get one.

One London school allegedly told parents that “students who repeatedly come into school without a face mask may be asked to return home to retrieve one”, while another city school said maskless children must “wait outside” until a mask is brought to them, or they will likewise have to go home to get one.

Parents have also allegedly been told that their children could be asked to use separate entrances and be segregated from their friends at lunch, as well as be barred from group activities like drama, sports, or after-school clubs if they do not wear a mask.

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