King’s School, Ottery, defends ban on face masks

A ban on protective face masks at The King’s School in Ottery St Mary has been branded ‘outrageous’.

But headteacher Rob Gammon has defended the school’s position, and said they are following Government guidance backed by the World Health Organisation.

However, some parents think it should be a matter of choice.

One father is keeping his two children at home until the ban is lifted, and has made a formal complaint to the school governors.

He said: “My children are of West Indian heritage. Bearing in mind the much-publicised risks to black and other ethnic minority people from the Covid-19 virus, and to give him a greater feeling of security, I sent my son in with a surgical mask to use at his discretion for increased protection.

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“I received a call from the student affairs office mid-morning telling me that my son had been asked to remove his face mask in school and asking if there was any medical reason why he had to wear it. They told me it was school policy for masks not to be worn.”

Another parent, Luke Gray, said he and his wife ‘regard the school’s position as outrageous’.

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He said: “They ban masks which reduce infection by 70 per cent in enclosed spaces like buses or, say, classrooms.

“They insist on ties, which are proven vectors of infection, so much so that hospital doctors are no longer allowed to wear them on wards.”

The parents are also surprised that they were not told about the policy before the school reopened.

The King’s School’s headteacher, Rob Gammon, said his position has been led by government guidance stating that ‘wearing a face covering or face mask in schools …. is not recommended’.

He said this is supported by World Health Organisation advice that the use of masks is encouraged ‘where there is no capacity to implement measures such as physical distancing’.

He said: “The face-to-face teaching has all been delivered within the context of government guidance on student numbers, social distancing, handwashing and hygiene.

“The feedback from students, parents and staff has been overwhelmingly positive, and we have been delighted to see so many students engaging in their learning successfully, despite the challenges that they have faced over recent months.”

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