An organisation formed in 2020 to oppose school shutdowns amid the coronavirus pandemic has launched a new campaign calling on the government to reverse recommendations that masks should be worn in classrooms.
In an open letter to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson on Thursday, UsForThem argued that “you can’t teach with face coverings and you can’t expect people to learn with face coverings.”
The organisation’s letter questioned what “evidence” the Health Department has to recommend that masks in classrooms are necessary, now that the most vulnerable Brits have already received their vaccination against Covid-19.
Today we launch #NOMASKSINCLASS ❌Govt must reverse its guidance on masks in schools. We’ve written to @GavinWilliamson about it today & had huge support. Help us get the message out by retweeting all our posts today ♻️Visit our website for more: https://t.co/LzR8MCAXiYpic.twitter.com/EZs9OhL48O
— UsforThemUK ⭐️ (@UsforThemUK) March 5, 2021
The letter also highlighted the “potential harms to both psychological and physical health” that can come from children being made to wear masks for long periods of time.
While Williamson has said that secondary school students should wear face masks in school, he declined to make them legally mandatory, telling The i newspaper, “We don’t think it is necessary to make it the law, and we think that schools will use good judgement.”
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UsForThem’s campaign received predictably mixed reactions on social media.
“100% support this considering where we are as a country with vaccinations. The vast majority of the vulnerable are now as safe as we can make them, time to start returning to normality,” one Twitter user wrote.
Others also supported the organisation, pointing out that children “have already made huge sacrifices” for coronavirus restrictions and that “degrading treatment is no way to thank them.”
Children have already made huge sacrifices in the cause of government folly. Inhumane and degrading treatment is no way to thank them. Get all kids back to school now with *no masks*. #NoMasksInClass@UsforThemUKhttps://t.co/54Z4BZRfDv
— Derek Winton PPC Reform UK Scotland (@derekwinton) March 5, 2021
Absolutely agree with this. It is hugely disproportionate to make secondary school pupils wear masks all day at school. https://t.co/4OQzjwwyNG
— Tara McCormack (@McCormack_Tara) March 5, 2021
I see there are a lot of pro mask trolls on here and 77th. At the end of the day it is not a ‘one size fits all’ some people have no issue with wearing them but many others do struggle. No child should be made to feel uncomfortable ever.
— DadDancer #KBF (@DancerDad) March 5, 2021
The pro-maskers were equally as vigorous in their opposition to the campaign, with some accusing UsForThem of being reckless and arguing that wearing a mask was a small price to pay for safety.
I wish you would put all your efforts into making schools safe for students and staff.Too much for the anti masker, anti lockdown, anti vaxxer brigade it seems.Think of all the good you could have aimed to achieve.Shame.
— Baggy 🇪🇺 #3.5% #FBPE #wokeandproud (@baggylondon) March 5, 2021
Honestly, it’s just a mask. Can children 11+ not wear them for a couple of hours in school. Most of the kids in my college will be fine to wear a mask. Get a grip
— ~faith~ (@faith_BigQ) March 5, 2021
“I’m going to be in one of them classes and honestly I couldn’t care less,”wrote one student. “Its a mask, it isnt going to kill me, sure its uncomfortable at times. But having myself or a relative stuck in hospital with a ventilator shoved down our throat would be far more uncomfortable.”
Another student also declared that she and her classmates “would rather wear our masks to protect others than no masks at all,” and advised the organisation to consult children directly on the matter.
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