Published: 10:13, 24 November 2021
| Updated: 15:08, 24 November 2021
A boarding school has come under fire for insisting children exempt from wearing face masks wear yellow badges likened to those worn by Nazi-persecuted Jews during the Holocaust.
Farringtons School in Chislehurst introduced mandatory face coverings in classrooms and corridors amid growing concerns over rising Covid-19 cases.
In a letter to parents explaining the decision, headmaster David Jackson said exempt pupils "should wear a yellow badge" and other students should wear a face covering "until further notice", as reported in The Telegraph.
Some pointed out the resemblance of those badges to the yellow Stars of David that Jews were forced to adorn during the Nazi occupation of Europe.
The policy of the private school, which charges £34,050-a-year, was heavily criticised as "deeply inappropriate" by some campaign groups given its historic connotations and it was also claimed the move could stigmatise vulnerable children.
But the school says it was selected after consulting the government website for advice and has insisted no offence was intended and is "horrified" such comparisons have been made.
Co-founder of parent campaign group UsForThem, Molly Kingsley, said it was far from an "isolated" case, the Telegraph reported.
'Unbelievably this specific example of asking them to wear a yellow badge is not in isolation.'
"Asking children to wear some form of exemption marker has been quite common in schools and unbelievably this specific example of asking them to wear a yellow badge is not in isolation," she said.
The campaigner added the historic connotations of yellow badges "should not need explaining".
Ms Kingsley also warned asking students to identify themselves as exempt from wearing a face covering could "stigmatise" them even more.
Earlier this month local public health chiefs were given more powers to request teenage pupils wear face coverings in schools.
The plans included asking secondary schools to make masks compulsory in communal areas, as well as the return of routine on-site rapid testing for pupils.
Informing parents of the decision in a letter, Mr Jackson wrote: "In light of the increase in the number of cases, we have also decided to re-introduce the compulsory wearing of face masks in classrooms and other confined areas within the senior school, such as corridors... until further notice.
"Those pupils who were exempt from wearing a mask last academic year will once again be exempt and should wear a yellow badge to indicate this."
A spokesman for the school told the Telegraph: "The decision to re-introduce masks was taken following Public Health England advice in response to a spike in cases after the October half-term holiday.
"Throughout the pandemic, all of our actions have been aimed at keeping the whole school community safe.
The spokesman added: "The rationale for introducing a badge for mask exempt pupils is so that they are not repeatedly challenged about not wearing a mask.
"On walking down a corridor, a teacher can immediately see that a mask is not required and therefore the wearing of a badge was intended to make it easier for those pupils.
"The badge was chosen after looking at the government advice about exemption from face-covering badges.
"This has a yellow circle and so we went for a yellow badge rather than producing a specially designed one.
"No offence was intended and we are horrified that any such parallel should be drawn."
Farringtons is an independent, fee-paying school in Bromley on the border of Kent.