Kids as young as FIVE told to wear face masks at primary school despite guidelines saying they don't need to

KIDS as young as five are being told to wear face masks at school despite official Government guidance stating otherwise.

Parents at primary schools in south London and Hertfordshire have been told children must keep their faces covered in the classroom when they return on March 8.

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Pupils at Selsdon Primary School in Croydon must wear coverings at all times, except during sports lessons or when eating or drinking, The Telegraph reports.

Headteacher Susan Papas said: "In order to be able to allow children to be able to play and socialise with the children in their bubble, we are asking that children from Year One to Year Six wear a face mask when in school.

"They will be taught the safe way to wear face coverings and will be asked to remove them for PE lessons, when eating and when drinking."

And parents at Nascot Wood Junior School in Watford have been told "well-fitted" face masks are needed while in the classroom.

The school said: "We request that children wear a well-fitted face mask whilst in the classroom, as the classrooms do not allow adequate social distancing."

Official guidance from the Department for Education (DfE) states that primary headteachers can decide whether to ask staff or visitors to wear face masks on the premises where social distancing is not possible.

But the guidelines clearly state that "children in primary school do not need to wear a face covering".

It even says face coverings can have "a negative impact on learning and teaching" and "their use in the classroom should be avoided".

Ministers have been urged to "urgently" clarify that masks are not only "unnecessary" for young children, but they could in fact cause serious harm.

Molly Kingsley, co-founder of the parent campaign group UsForThem, said: "This just shows why measures of this nature should be treated very cautiously.

"Already 72 hours in we are seeing the worrying extension of this mandate into primary schools.

"We suspect these two schools won’t be isolated examples. Is this really what we want for children?"

She added: "Face masks are an untested intervention and one that many respected academics and doctors have raised serious concerns about due to the long-term effects on communication and educational attainment.

"This is a measure of sufficient potential seriousness to mean that it never should have been rolled out without proper evaluation and it must now be reversed."

Boris Johnson announced this week that secondary school kids are to be tested twice a week under fresh plans to get children back in the classroom in England next month.

They will also be required to wear face masks if it is not possible to socially distance at two metres apart.

But according to ministers these measures are not a legal requirement and children must not be kicked out of the classroom if they resist.

This morning, Schools Minister Nick Gibbs said masks are "highly recommended" – but not compulsory.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, he said: "We are saying it is not mandatory for schools to have masks in classrooms but it is highly recommended because we want to do everything we can to reduce the risk of transmission in the school.

"So there is twice-a-week testing of students, staff as well.

"We have all those measures in place – hand hygiene, the cleaning of surfaces, the ventilation, staggered lunchbreaks and play times – all those measures designed to minimise the risk of infection and transmission within the school.

"And this is one more measure just to help reduce that where you can't have social distancing in a classroom."

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

It also says that lateral flow testing is "voluntary" and "schools will have discretion on how to test students over that week as they return to the classroom".

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said on Wednesday: "In line with public health guidance, we are also now advising that face coverings should be worn in secondary school classrooms as well as in further and higher education settings unless social distancing can be maintained.

"Again, this is to help reduce transmission."

He reassured parents that risk to children is "incredibly low" and that this is a "temporary measure" that will be in place until Easter, when it will be reviewed.

Some parents have said they will refuse to send their kids back to school if masks are made compulsory.

Ms Kingsley said UsForThem has received "hundreds" of messages from parents saying they will keep their kids at home due to the mask requirement.

And millions more secondary school pupils may not return to classrooms for at least a week after March 8 as teachers face mass Covid testing nightmares.

Julie McCulloch from the Association of School and College Leaders union has slammed the "huge logistical challenge" and thinks kids returning on time is "extremely unlikely".

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