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Parents make children wear face masks all day at schools, Kent County Council told

Anxious parents have told their children to wear face coverings throughout the whole school day.

It has sparked fears about children's mental wellbeing as education chiefs strive to make schools as normal as possible.

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Children do not have to wear masks in class Stock picture: Anthony Devlin/Getty Images
Children do not have to wear masks in class Stock picture: Anthony Devlin/Getty Images

Kent County Council's (KCC) 16-person education committee met to discuss key issues arising from the return of all pupils to school this month.

Concerns were raised about overzealous families adopting rules beyond the Government guidelines as some students have been told to wear face masks at all times in schools to protect against infection.

Folkestone and Hythe county councillor Rory Love (Con) questioned whether KCC could do anything to bring schools "back in line" to make the primary and secondary school environment as "normal" as possible for youngsters.

Speaking during a virtual public meeting, he said: "Many of us feel this could have an implication on the mental wellbeing of children."

On September 1, Boris Johnson's Government revised guidance on face coverings for school staff and children in Year 7 or above in England.

Under the rules, schools and colleges have the "discretion" to require face coverings be worn in communal areas where social distancing cannot be safely managed, in line with World Health Organisation (WHO) advice.

However, KCC education director, David Adams, said that some Kent schools had gone "further" than this to reassure staff and parents, although he added this was "relatively limited" in number.

Mr Adams said: "The challenges have come more around parents wanting their child to wear a face covering all day and I think that presents some challenges for schools around the safety of that.

"This is in terms of children fiddling with the masks, the perception of other pupils and those issues that go with that.

"In summary, it's a fairly limited extension of mandatory requirements by schools. I don't think it is anything significant."

Kent school leaders, of which there are at least 600, have been told to hold talks with parents and affected pupils about "what is driving the request".

Some parents have said they are worried about bringing Covid back into the house where vulnerable other family members live, the committee was told.

Mr Adams said: "We have encouraged schools to work with the family, clearly we want the child back in school, that's the primary concern."

He added: "But it's a judgement call, we have had some schools who have gone out very hard and said 'no' and others working with the family to try and resolve that issue."

Acting as an intermediary, KCC's cabinet member for education, Cllr Richard Long (Con) said there should be a "balance" and said: "Clearly we would like children to have as normal an experience in education as possible.

"And on top of that, it is important that everyone is kept safe for the safety of children and staff and of course so that the virus does not get out of hand."

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