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Only a third of deaf children would be in school if facemasks in class are made mandatory, new survey shows

04 September 2020

Just one in three deaf children across the UK are likely to be in school if facemasks are introduced, a new survey by the National Deaf Children’s Society shows.

Of 800 parents of deaf children, just 36% were likely to send their child to school if teachers were asked to wear face masks. A further one in five (19%) were uncertain about what they would do.

Governments across the UK now require face coverings in communal areas in secondary schools or colleges, or will allow schools and colleges to make them compulsory. While face coverings are not currently recommended in classrooms, teachers can choose to wear them.

The charity also warned that schools and colleges have a legal duty to make sure every child can access their education, meaning they must make every reasonable adjustment necessary to make sure face masks don’t exclude or isolate deaf students.

Ian Noon, Chief Policy Advisor at the National Deaf Children’s Society, said: “In the decades I’ve worked in education policy, I’ve never seen a policy roll-out that’s happened so quickly and caused so much fear, worry and anguish for deaf students and their families.

“Safety must be the number one priority, but parents will have an agonising choice if face masks are worn in classrooms. Either they send their child to school to face isolation, loneliness and a daily battle to understand their teacher, or they get fined for keeping them at home.

DR UK Head of Policy Fazilet Hadi said: “We fully back these calls for an inclusive approach to education. We join the calls for clear face masks for those working with deaf children and greater investment in support technologies to ensure a parity of experience within the school environment.”