- Professor Christina Pejel calls for face masks to be brought back to schools
- She said that the increasing covid infection in the age group meant that they were needed
- Teaching unions have already called for face masks to be re-used in schools
A member of the independent SAGE claimed today that face masks in secondary schools should be brought back immediately.
Guidance saying children should wear coverings to classrooms was removed in mid-May as part of ending lockdown restrictions.
But with the number of children testing positive for Covid rising to their highest level since the pandemic began, some academics now want them to return to schools.
Professor Christina Pagel, a mathematician at University College London, said they should be brought back to schools ‘right now’.
Addressing a Royal Society for Medicine briefing, he called for other mitigation measures to be put back into use such as keeping doors and windows open.
Current restrictions require school children to test themselves for the virus twice a week using a lateral flow device.
Face masks are already in use in schools in the South West, Cumbria and parts of Northamptonshire.
But this is not government policy across the country, although officials have said schools are free to re-impose some COVID restrictions, including face masks.
Students in parts of the South West and Northamptonshire are already wearing face masks in schools (stock image, above)
Public Health England’s weekly surveillance report found the case rate among 10 to 19-year-olds (green line) reached 1,084 cases per 100,000 children last week, the highest on record.
Professor Pagel said: ‘I think we need to do mitigation in schools, especially masks in secondary schools, now and roll out the vaccine a little bit more quickly.’
He warned of rising infection rates among children, their risk of suffering a ‘longer COVID’ and slow vaccine roll outs meant to take action to limit the spread of the virus.
Teaching unions have already called for bringing back face masks in schools amid rising cases of Kovid.
But some experts have warned that they will potentially have a further negative impact on children’s education, and the evidence for how well they work is weak.
Scotland – which saw a meteoric rise in Covid cases – required masks in schools when children returned from summer holidays.
Leora Crudas, chief executive of the Confederation of Schools Trusts, said officials would have to weigh whether face masks should be brought back to schools.
She said, ‘I’m not making a case for not being in class for face coverings, definitely not. ‘I am making a case so that a proportionate decision can be taken.
‘If the risk of infection for children is more important than the risk of losing education, there should be a policy for face masks in the classroom.’
But Dr Camilla Kingdon, president of the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health, called for the end of the last remaining COVID measures in schools.
The college is calling for an end to twice-weekly testing for students – the only COVID control measure still in use in schools.
She said at the briefing: ‘We are asking to have talks about regular lateral flow tests for children as we want to go with the more common way of returning to school.
In the common cold, if your child is sick, has a fever or cough, he should not come to school, but if your child is healthy he should come in.
‘We are advocating for talks on how we can get back to a place where children can count on being allowed to go to school.’
This comes after a report was published today that one in six children have a mental health problem and two-thirds say their life was worse in the lockdown.
Do face masks work? Studies show that coverings reduce the spread of covid and reduce the chances of inhaling infected droplets
Most scientific studies conducted so far show that face masks reduce the spread of coronavirus in enclosed indoor settings.
Several studies have concluded that face coverings reduce the spread of airborne droplets carrying COVID bacteria between people.
The latest data from the Lancet, from studies in China and Thailand as well as aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt, prevent 80 percent of droplets from being released into the air by a person wearing a mask, and they also block about 50 percent of them by potential prey. Breathing being done.
COVID-19 is spread through these airborne droplets when people cough, sneeze or talk – and standing nearby can aid transmission.
The US Centers for Disease Control found in a real-world data experiment that covering up was useful. Two hairstylists who had symptoms of COVID worked on 139 clients in eight days.
All those involved wore masks and none of the 67 who voluntarily tested positive came back positive. Another experiment in China looked at 124 homes where the virus was reported.
It was found that wearing a face covering had reduced transmission by 79 percent. And one example even came from the USS Theodore Roosevelt – a cramped vessel with cramped living quarters and makes social distancing difficult.
But the study found that using a face cover reduces the risk of infection by up to 70 percent. Meanwhile in Thailand, a retrospective case-control study of 1,000 spoken during a contact tracing investigation found those who said they wore a cover were 70 percent less likely to catch COVID.
And the Lancet, in its report, looked at 172 studies from 16 countries and concluded that wearing a mask gives a person just a three percent chance of getting the virus. The University of Edinburgh looked at the different types of masks that people can wear and found that homemade masks can be effective.
Researchers tested seven variants, including surgical masks, respirators, lightweight and heavy-duty face shields, and handmade masks. All of them – except the one with the valve – can achieve the shortest distance drops by at least 90 percent.