Face masks in schools slammed as ‘unlawful’ and ‘devastating’ for deaf children

Face masks have been labelled as "devastating" for deaf children after strict new guidance was handed out to schools.

Children in England returned to school on March 8 after Boris Johnson's third national lockdown took kids out of classrooms for just over three months.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has been tasked with the safe return to schools, and his department issued brand new guidance on face masks.

The new advice is stricter than previous recommendations on face masks and asks teachers to ensure all secondary school pupils wear a mask during lessons, as well as anywhere indoors kids can’t socially distance.

Mr Williamson has faced backlash for the guidance and the National Deaf Children's Society (NDCS) even branded the rules as "unlawful."

In a letter to the Education Secretary, the NDCS said the rules add a "avoidable additional barrier" for deaf children to learn and interact.

The organisation said deaf pupils will not be able to see the faces of their teachers and friends, leaving them unable to lip read.

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Mr Williamson's department also claimed there is "very little evidence" transparent masks protect the safety of pupils and teachers.

The NDCS disputed this and said clear face coverings "have been approved for use by the NHS in numerous healthcare settings."

"The suggestion that transparent face coverings may be ineffective is belied by the fact that specified transparent face coverings have been approved for use by the NHS in numerous healthcare settings and meet the standard set for face coverings," the legal letter read.

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A Department of Education spokesperson told the Telegraph: "Our guidance is clear that any children and staff who rely on lip reading or facial expressions to communicate do not have to wear face coverings in school.

"Throughout the pandemic schools have been able to make adjustments for children with additional needs, so they can learn and be taught alongside their peers.

"We will review our position on face coverings by Easter, and in line with all decision-making throughout the pandemic, will follow the best available scientific and public health advice at the time."

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