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Whitty Told To Explain Science Behind Masks In Schools

Writing for Politics Home on Friday March 5, Kate Procter looked at why Professor Chris Whitty has been asked to urgently explain the science behind mask-wearing in schools.

The government is being urged to set out to parents and teachers the science behind new guidance recommending secondary school pupils to wear masks in class when they return to school on Monday.

Chair of the education select committee, Robert Halfon MP, said outlining the science behind the move could boost take-up among pupils and give teachers the backing to insist that children wear them for one another's safety.

Halfon believes chief medical officer Chris Whitty or his deputy Jonathan Van Tam, who is also well known to the public, should write an open letter to parents and teachers this weekend to explain why it is important for masks to be worn in school up until the Easter holiday. Otherwise the policy – which is advice only – will fail and risks a difficult start to the school return, he suggested.

Speaking to PoliticsHome, Halfon said: "You might have some parents challenge the decisions of the headteachers on the masks if they don't want their children to wear masks. That's going to put enormous pressure on teachers and support staff because the guidance is [only] guidance.

The chief medical officer should publish an open letter explaining to the country and to parents where the scientific evidence is and why they believe that masks are necessary. They should publish that over the weekend.

"One way or the other the government has got to make it very clear what is required so that parents are clear." Asked about Halfon's remarks at the Downing Street daily press conference by PoliticsHome, Dr Susan Hopkins, strategic response director at Public Health England, said masks were part of the advice they had drawn up