Great Britain

Parents furious as schoolkids told if they don’t wear masks they’ll have to sit at back of class

SCHOOLKIDS have been told if they refuse to wear face masks they will be made to sit at the back of the classroom.

Parents are furious at the "mask apartheid" which will see pupils physically segregated from their peers when they return from March 8.

🦠 Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates...

They fear their children will face discrimination and be forced to miss out on lessons and social activities.

Primary school kids do not have to wear masks when pupils return next week.

But secondary school students will be asked to wear them if it is not possible to socially distance at two metres apart.

They will also be asked to undergo twice weekly Covid testing.

The Government has said while both measures are "voluntary", masks are "highly recommended".

Official guidance from the Department for Education states that "no pupil should be denied education on the grounds that they are not wearing a face covering".

But some schools have said they will be operating strict mask-wearing policies, and students will be separated or even expelled if they refuse.

'I FEEL BLACKMAILED'

Students who do not wear masks at The Stonehenge School in Amesbury, Wilts, will be "asked to sit near open doors or windows and must understand that their peers may not wish to sit with or work with them", The Telegraph reports.

"Alternative arrangements" will be made for those not wearing face masks in the classroom at The Warwick School in Redhill, Surrey.

And secondary pupils not wearing masks at another school will be forced to enter through a separate entrance and sit at a table alone at the back of the classroom next to an open window.

They will also be banned from sitting with their friends at lunch time and will be barred from taking part in group activities like drama, PE or after school clubs.

One parent said: "I am appalled and feel blackmailed into accepting these measures so that my children can partake in exercise, class learning and their social groups at school."

A secondary school in Rayleigh, Essex, is implementing similar rules stating that pupils without masks will be forced to eat their packed lunches away from the canteen and instead eat outside, regardless of the weather.

The same school has also said that any student not covering their face will not be allowed to use the canteen toilets at lunch time.

A Worcester secondary school has said kids not wearing masks will be made to sit two metres away from all other pupils in the classroom - even if they are medically exempt.

It said that if social distancing wasn't possible they the children would be placed in an entirely separate room.

One parent has described the segregation as a "mask apartheid".

They said: "If you start treating children differently, it will impact on their ability to learn.

"The Government needs to be very clear that no pupils should be discriminated against in this way."

Some headteachers have even threatened to expel pupils for disobeying school mask rules.

Others have said anyone arriving without one will be sent home to fetch one, or wear one the school provides.

Catmose College in Oakham, Rutland, has said it may expel pupils who do not wear face masks where they cannot keep two metres apart.

The school's vice principal, Alexandra Emmerson, told parents: "Exclusion is always the last resort within any situation, however if a student deliberately places a member of staff at risk, then appropriate proportionate action will be taken."

At Coombe Girls School in south west London, students who "repeatedly come into school without a face mask may be asked to return home to retrieve one".

And pupils at Park Academy in west London will be made to "wait outside" until a mask is brought out to them.

Allyson Pollock, a professor of public health at the Newcastle University, said: "This is not informed consent, its coercion and other harms are emerging as a result – psychological trauma, isolation, segregation stigmatising children and its a form of abuse and harassment and intimidation of children and parents."

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland told Sky News: "The position is it is recommended that masks are worn. I think it’s right for the Government not to be too prescriptive about this.

"We need to trust headteachers and staff to ensure that not only their school is safe, but that the practicalities are understood.

"It’s right to give that element of flexibility. I think they can be trusted to make the right decisions for the circumstances they find."

Prof Calum Semple says schools ARE safe as children 'get used to' taking Covid tests, wearing face masks and keeping windows open

Football news:

Jan about penalty City: According to the rules, this is not a hand game. In the first match, a goal was stolen from us. Bad taste
Valverde on the attack on the Real Madrid bus: It motivates. You go out on the pitch with a killer instinct
The boots in which Messi broke Pele's record will be sold at auction. The money will go to help sick children
Mourinho on losing points: Tottenham start matches well. This is a positive that is readily forgotten
Holand wants to earn 35 million euros in a new club (Goal.Com)
Pique escaped punishment for words about the judges and Real Madrid
The management of Bayern does not plan to discuss the future with Flick yet