Belfast school to introduce mandatory face masks for pupils

Belfast Royal Academy is a co-educational grammar school in north Belfast. Credit: PA

A north Belfast grammar school has issued guidance to parents and guardians outlining that pupils will have to wear face masks when they return for the new academic year.

Belfast Royal Academy sent letters to families explaining that pupils would not be allowed into class without a mask.

It comes after Education Minister Peter Weir said children would not have to wear masks in schools because such a policy would be “not implementable”.

BRA says it will be issuing washable masks to pupils and disposable masks will not be allowed because of their environmental impact.

If a pupil arrives to school without a face mask, they will not be permitted to enter the classroom.

Belfast Royal Academy

The school claims it would be extremely difficult to implement social distancing requirements for the large pupil and staff population.

“Therefore, in order to protect all members of the school community, including those who are vulnerable, all pupils, staff and visitors must wear a face covering within the schools buildings,” it said.

“Every pupil will be provided with a washable face mask in school colours.”

The NI Executive's chief scientific adviser Professor Ian Young has said the wearing of face coverings by older pupils in certain school settings could offer some benefit.

Pupils in Northern Ireland are due to return to school full time at the end of the month.

Face masks are already mandatory on public transport, and in shops and other enclosed public spaces.

A Department of Education spokeswoman said: “Any specific public health advice will be followed regarding the use of PPE and face coverings for teachers and pupils.

“Detailed guidance on the reopening of schools will be issued this week and will include advice on the use of PPE and face coverings.”

Northern Ireland’s first Covid-19 linked death in almost a month was reported in the Department of Health’s daily statistics on Monday, taking the total to 557 since the outbreak began.

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