Two furious parents have slammed a decision by their son’s school to ban masks from the classroom – and say he won’t return until the policy is lifted.
Paul and Michelle Meade had hoped their son Kieron, 10, could return to Friskney All Saints in Lincolnshire on Friday, October 10 on the condition he could wear a face covering.
But their hopes were dashed when they received a letter from headteacher Charles Daniels saying wearing a face mask would not be permitted on school premises.
The couple say they have no other option other than to home-school their son until the school changes their controversial policy.
Mr Meade told LinclonshireLive : “The World Health Organisation is clear that 10-year-olds should wear a mask in areas where the infection rate is increasing, and where the child comes into contact with someone on a regular basis who is vulnerable to the disease.
“I am diabetic and at an increased risk to complications if I catch the virus. So our son wants to do the right thing and wear a mask, not just to protect himself, but to protect others, like me.
“This ban by Friskney [All Saints Primary] School flies in the face of science and health experts around the world.
“The headteacher is saying he knows better than the experts. We are in the midst of a global pandemic, where we should be urging extra vigilance at all levels.”
The angry dad says that after months of lockdown, the last thing he wants is his son to miss out on more schooling.
However, after reading research online he remains convinced wearing a mask will keep his son, himself and the rest of his family safe.
He insists he isn’t calling for every child to wear a mask – but would like his for his son to have the option to do so.
“It seems outrageous that for seven months we have told our son to follow Government guidelines and wear a mask in public places – but when it comes to our local school they actually ban the wearing of face coverings,” he said.
“It seems rather extreme. We are not demanding other children wear a mask, we are just asking that pupils have the option – if they or their parents feel a need for that extra level of protection, especially if they have someone vulnerable to the virus at home.”
Mr Meade has claims children in foreign countries do have the option to wear a mask to school.
And with the decision being made by the school, not the Government, Mr Meade says he can’t understand why his son can’t do the same.
He said: “In a letter from the head earlier this year he suggested that he understood our plight, and also understood the school could not guarantee our son’s safety.
“Why would I then be willing to send him there, if they will not allow him to wear protection recommended by health experts worldwide?”
He added: “It’s like telling children to always wear a helmet when riding their bike – but if they are on school property they must take that helmet off. It is that ridiculous. It makes no sense to us at all.”
Mr Meade, a publisher, hopes that by sharing his battle, the school will change their mind so he can let Kieron return to the classroom.
He said: “We know you can’t completely shield your children from the virus, it is out there. But the message from science and health experts is clear – wash hands thoroughly, keep your distance and wear a mask.
“We want the school to give our son the chance to do just that. By doing so he will not be causing any harm to himself or any other child, and there is no scientific evidence to suggest otherwise.
“Surely excluding our son from school because he wants to wear a mask is more damaging to his mental health and wellbeing. Friskney School is depriving our son of an education – because the Head is choosing to interpret policy, rather than applying common sense.”
He added: “We have asked them to please reconsider, to make an exception. 10-year-olds across the world are wearing masks at school.
“Here, it appears policy takes precedence over health. Someone in the Education Authority needs to please speak up, and support good health practice. Our son wants to go to school wearing a mask – why the big deal?”
In a letter, explaining the refusal to let Kieron wear a mask, Mr Daniels said that wearing a mask “can have a negative impact on learning and teaching and so their use in the classroom should be avoided.”
He also said that should Kieron remain off school, his absence will recorded as “unauthorised” meaning his parents could face legal action.
Speaking on behalf of the school, Martin Smith, interim assistant director for education, said: “The government has provided schools with a range of guidance to help them prevent the virus spreading.
“It isn’t a case of one size fits all, and it is down to each school to determine the most appropriate measures for their circumstances.
“The current government guidance states that face coverings are not necessary in the classroom, even where social distancing is not possible.
“The guidance also states that face coverings would have a negative impact on teaching and their use in the classroom should be avoided.
“However, the government has not banned them outright.”