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Some schoolchildren ‘distressed, subdued and self-conscious’ because of facemasks, MPs told

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Some schoolchildren have been left distressed, subdued and self-conscious about answering questions in class because they are wearing facemasks in school, MPs heard today.

Government guidance states that secondary school children should wear face masks in classrooms when they cannot stick to the two metre social distancing rule, as well as wearing them in communal areas and on public transport.

The policy will be reviewed at Easter.

Mr Halfon said: “I have had emails from parents saying that some children have found wearing masks in the classroom distressing, that it’s made pupils subdued and downcast and some have even been in tears or very self-conscious to answer questions.”

He asked if enough has been done to study the impact of mask wearing on children’s well-being and mental health, at a session to discuss the impact of Covid 19 on education.

Dr Alex George, the government’s youth mental health ambassador and former Love Island contestant, said: “It’s a difficult balance because you are looking at risk of Covid and also the impact on the children… But if we believe there is an impact we should look into that and find out more.”

Bernadka Dubicka, Chair of the child and adolescent faculty, Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “There is a balance of risks. For every child who doesn’t want to wear a mask there will be another one who will be terrified because they are sitting next to somebody without a mask, who might be shielding their own relatives. So it is a difficult issue.

“There is probably learning we could do from other countries like Hong Kong where it’s just routine to wear masks so I think it would be useful for the committee to see if there are any studies in those countries.”

Catherine Roche, chief executive of Place2Be said: “If it’s something that will continue for the long term we should understand what its impact is – but I think there are probably more pressing priorities.”

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