City school considers sanctions for children not wearing masks

A Liverpool secondary school has said it is considering sanctions for children who do not wear a face mask as pupils begin a staggered return to the classroom.

Gateacre School in south Liverpool began testing year 11 and sixth form pupils using lateral flow tests on Monday ahead of their return to lessons tomorrow.

The testing will continue for lower years until Thursday, when all pupils with a negative test result will return.

The school is instructing all children to wear face coverings, and headteacher Gareth Jones said there would be discussions with pupils and parents on how to enforce the rule.

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Mr Jones told the PA News Agency: "We cannot exclude a child for not wearing a face mask, so we are looking at sanctions and will be discussing with both the parents and the children on how best to proceed."

The Government has decided against making the use of face coverings mandatory due to pupil anxiety.

But the Department for Education (DfE) is advising secondary school and college students to wear them wherever social distancing cannot be maintained, including in the classroom.

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Mr Jones praised parents for their support of the reopening process and said the school had a 70% consent rate from parents for their children to undertake mass testing.

After taking her first test at school, Marjane Benjoub, a year 11 student, said: "It tickles in the worst way possible and it is not a very nice feeling to be honest.

"But it is pretty simple to do, and I would rather do it than have any of the risks of not doing it."

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Hannah Buckley-Dunn, another year 11 pupil, said: "It's worth it. It gives people a safe feeling to go home."

Gateacre School was one of the schools that supported Liverpool Council in the pilot of city-wide rapid testing in November.

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