Ministers warned that masks are causing physical side-effects in children including breathing difficulties, headaches and dizziness By Camilla Turner
Face masks in the classroom are causing physical harm to children, ministers have been warned amid reports of breathing difficulties, headaches and dizziness.
Children around the country are suffering from a range of side effects including light headedness, fatigue and facial rashes, according to a symptom tracker launched by the parent campaign group UsForThem.
The tracker, which was launched at the end of last week, has so far gathered over 50 reports of youngsters suffering “shocking” physical reactions to face masks.
It comes amid rising pressure on the Government over its latest guidance on masks, which says they should be worn by secondary pupils in lessons as well as anywhere indoors at school where it is not possible to socially distance.
This goes much further than the earlier official recommendations on face masks in secondary schools. During the autumn term, guidance from the Department for Education (DfE) said face masks should be worn in corridors and communal areas in parts of the country under Tier 2 or Tier 3 restrictions.
Elsewhere, it was left to the discretion of headteachers. One parent, whose teenage child is required to wear a face mask for between four and seven hours a day, said they experienced “fatigue, headaches, anxiety and a lack of concentration”.
They said that teachers are putting children under “extreme pressure” to wear masks, adding staff make pupils “feel guilty if they ask to take a mask break”.
Another said their child, who has to wear a mask for at least seven hours a day while at school, has developed a “feeling of tightness in the chest and migraines”.
Earlier this month the Prime Minister faced a Tory backlash over face masks in the classroom with 32 MPs demanding that the measure is dropped after Easter.https://cf-particle-html.eip.telegraph.co.uk/5ad1bf16-3dbb-4507-a2f4-7a0f691b6b2e.html?i=1&ref=www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/03/16/face-masks-class-causing-physical-harm-children/&channel=news&id=5ad1bf16-3dbb-4507-a2f4-7a0f691b6b2e&isapp=false&isregistered=false&issubscribed=false&truncated=false
Boris Johnson was told in a letter from the MPs that it is “just not good enough” to impose the measure on millions of secondary pupils given that the evidence that it will help prevent the spread of coronavirus is “pretty thin”.
One mother said that her daughter, who attends an all-girls grammar school in Gloucestershire, has developed headaches and rashes on her face from wearing a mask all day.
“I told her to wear a lanyard [to show she is exempt from wearing a mask] but she said people who wear lanyards get called ‘trumpees’,” the mother said, explaining that this is a derogatory term referring to the former US president Donald Trump’s anti-mask stance.
“So she dutifully wears a mask even though I know it makes her uncomfortable and gives her a headache.”
Molly Kingsley, co-founder of UsForThem, urged the Government to abolish face masks in the classroom.
“It is really shocking that we are one week in and already hearing multiple anecdotal reports of children suffering what look to be really worrying symptoms of physical harm” she said.
“It’s hard to believe that we are in a situation where children are being made to do something which appears to restrict their breathing. How bad does it have to get before ministers sit up and notice?”
One in ten secondary pupils were still not back at school on Monday, a week after school officially reopened to all pupils, according to official data. About 89 per cent of secondary pupils were in class on March 15, according to data from the DfE.
Attendance in primary schools began at 96 per cent at the start of last week, but it fell to 94 per cent on March 15.
The Association of School and College Leaders warned that attendance levels will be “bumpy” as pupils testing positive for Covid-19, and their close contacts, are still being sent home to self-isolate.
A government spokesperson said the face mask guidance for schools would be reviewed by Easter, adding that it would “follow the best available scientific and public health advice at the time”.