Education Return and Awarding Qualifications in 2021 - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 2:44 pm on 1st March 2021.

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Photo of Lord Triesman Lord Triesman Labour 2:44 pm, 1st March 2021

My Lords, I draw attention to my entry in the register as a member of the board of Bounce Forward, a charity concerned with children’s resilience. I agree with the Minister that we all want to see our children back in school. We all want to know that it is a safe process, that children will not be taking the virus home and that we will not be wholly reliant on flow tests that have been hardly reliable.

We have learned that any ambiguity in the advice given can be very counterproductive. The Statement says that with specific medical exceptions, school pupils will wear face masks in school at all times. But apparently, and confusingly, the Government have also issued advice that allows parents to opt their children out of this requirement. We know that many people and communities are sceptical about vaccines and are declining them, which I greatly regret. They may be likely to opt their children out of mask wearing. Will the Minister make it absolutely clear today that wearing masks in schools is mandatory, except where there is a medical reason not to do so?