A primary school headteacher has insisted that pupils as young as five years old wear face masks to school – or they will not be allowed on site.
Warren Harrison, headmaster of The Premier Academy’s Eaton Mill Primary School, in Milton Keynes, Bucks., is believed to be the first primary school headteacher in the country to initiate the rule.
In a newsletter issued to parents on Monday this week, Mr Harrison instructed them that all children will be required to wear surgical masks when being dropped off and picked up from school.
Children will then be allowed to take off the masks and switch them for a named face shield once in their classrooms.
The newsletter also stated that pupils will be required to wear face masks or shields while moving around the school, for instance visiting the toilets.
Masks and shields may be removed when outside of the school buildings, for eating purposes and during the class bubble’s daily walks.
These rules will be applied to all pupils from Year 1 (five years old) upwards, when pupils return to the school – which holds an ‘Outstanding’ rating from Ofsted – on September 8.
Mr Harrison had previously warned parents earlier this month that if they’re not taking Covid-19 seriously, they need to find another school, advising them to: “Maybe try Hogwarts”.
His most recent newsletter this week also slammed the government for their approach to the Covid crisis, accusing them of “doing everything on the hoof”.
And whilst some parents have the school’s face mask policy as “completely unneccessary”, Mr Harrison insists the school is acting with “common sense, logic, and reason”.
In response to mixed reaction over his newsletter, the headteacher said: “I think that it is worth noting that the wearing of facemasks is only when dropping off and collecting.
“We are insisting the same from the parents.
“The school has had five staff resignations citing Covid-19 as the reason since July.
“The way things are moving I fully expect that there will be a directive down the line that face masks will be become mandatory.
“If we are wrong then so be it but at least we will have taken precautions.
“We have made it clear that we will be reviewing these procedures regularly.
“We hope that the extra measures mean that we can get more children back to school in September as parental confidence grows.
“Our last parental survey returned that only 70 per cent of parents were intending to send their children back to school in September.
“The school’s response is that we would like all children back in, if they are fit to do so, for the benefit of mental health.
“But ultimately, the decision lies with the parents.”
The school’s new rules state that all staff, children, parents, carers and visitors must don a mask when on site or they will not be allowed access.
“Face coverings are not acceptable. We recommend the N95 or surgical masks,” he writes.
The newsletter continues: “Once in their bubbles, children and those members of staff in close contact with children will change from a mask to a named shield which will be supplied by the school.
“Anyone may however stay in a mask if they prefer.
“Reception aged children will not be mandated to wear a mask or face shield, however we would encourage you to encourage them to do so at the current time.
“At dismissal time all shields should be left on desks with water bottles so that they can be cleaned efficiently.
“Children will be dismissed in masks to adults wearing masks. Where possible please maintain a 2 metre distance and follow the instructions given by the staff.”
Mr Harrison’s letter states water bottles and face shields were being provided and would be named by the school.
He urges parents to practice mask wearing with their children before school begins.
“Make sure that your child understands why they are wearing a mask,” he writes.
“Teach them how to apply it and remove it and slip their arm through it up to their bicep for when they go to the dining hall or their daily walks.
“It would also be useful if they could practise wearing a shield over their face for a while at home to get them used to this too.
“Please note that the following steps are precautionary measures designed to protect everyone from C-19 and especially the more vulnerable members of staff.
“These measures will be reviewed monthly, however we expect more schools to follow suit.”
The school is also cancelling breakfast and after school clubs as an added safety precaution.
Much of the rest of the newsletter is spent criticising the way in which the Covid-19 pandemic has been handled in the UK.
Mr Harrison writes: “If it (the mask rule) goes well, you never know, it may catch on.
“From what we have witnessed so far, doing everything on the hoof doesn’t really pay dividends.
“Especially given the fact that government is now scapegoating Public Health England which will be disbanded by (Matt) Hancock who actually has direct control of PHE.
“This is the same man who told NHS workers back in April that wearing masks made no difference.”
The letter adds: “The WHO has said from the outset that we need to test test test and this would seem like the obvious way forward which would solve many of the issues and help reduce anxiety.
“If we could we would like to randomly test children and staff on a weekly basis.
“We do not understand why this is such a difficult strategy for the government to deliver on unless of course it knows something that we don’t.
“Just like a vesper martini it would shake things up without stirring things up, especially today which is so far the day when the highest number of Covid-19 cases have been confirmed globally”.
Mr Harrison’s letter is titled ‘The World Has Changed And So Have We’ and also makes puns about Bond movies.
It states: “Although this may sound like the title of the next Bond Movie, it is not.
“I do appreciate that it could have felt like the sky was falling in recently but tomorrow never dies and we have to look to the future.
“The quantum of solace that we have all faced recently seemed to be coming to an end until today when MK Council leader Pete Marland said that MK may soon need to go into lockdown.
“As it stands we are still planning to open on 8 September and to have all children back on site by the end of that week.
“There is no way of working Moonraker into this paragraph, however if the next Bond movie is set in SW1, I expect the title to be From Punch And Judy With Love. Need I say more?”
Earlier this month he wrote another message to Premier Academy parents about Covid safety measures.
He said: “None of us can afford to be complacent.
“If you are not taking Covid-19 seriously then we need to find you a school which better matches your view of the world. Maybe try Hogwarts.”