The challenge was launched last week by lawyers from legal website LaworFiction and was served alongside a supporting psychology and health and safety report. If successful, the 12-year-old pupil’s action against the school – which cannot be identified for legal reasons – could pave the way for numerous similar claims across the country. Masks in classrooms were a “precautionary measure” that has been in place since schools reopened in England on March 8.
But the psychology report states that masks and social distancing rules within Child A’s school are” likely to be causing psychological harm to children ..(and) interfere with .. development.”
It states the extent of harm is unknown due to the “unique nature of the social experiment underway in schools and wider society.”
In the report Child A said “everyone is sad” at school due to the measures, adding school is “just not fun anymore” and that it is often difficult to understand what teachers are saying.
The report concludes: “Children’s learning and growth is not just something that happens it requires attention and investment….it is therefore crucial to consider how children’s experiences are being directly affected by the SARS-CoV2 measures in schools and potential consequences.”
The second report, carried out by an expert in health and safety, states: “Children .. have little power to oppose decisions made by the adults who hold authority over them. Those same children will carry the health burden of any errors or omissions for the rest of their lives.”
It says the school has not considered the risk of health damage due to the restriction of air supply due to mask wearing “throughout the entire school day.”
The report also highlighted risks of breathing potentially dangerous fibres from face coverings “sold in the community” which “have the potential to cause” long term lung damage such as asthma or fibrosis.
Earlier this month campaign group UsForThem threatened a judicial review if the mask policy was not changed.
It sent a pre-action letter to Gavin Williamson claiming face masks in schools pose a threat to the health and welfare of millions of children and saying there is “no credible scientific evidence” to support the Government’s current position.
Mr Williamson has been told that face masks raise “serious questions of children’s health” as well as being “deleterious to their education”.
UsForThem said that they have received reports of children suffering “shocking consequences” as a result of the face mask policy. It is expected to apply for judicial review this week.
The government considered scrapping the masks in schools rule last week, but decided to keep it in place until at least May 17, the next stage in Boris Johnson’s ‘roadmap’.
The Department for Education (DfE) said the measure would continue after the Easter holidays.
The decision followed a review of the evidence on the use of face coverings in schools and colleges, including data from Public Health England.
Education Gavin Williamson said: “We obviously all want to get back to face mask-free classrooms and we will do this in line with the latest scientific data while balancing the interests of students, teachers and the wider community.”
UNISON, welcomed the mask decision and said ministers “sensibly” listened to school staff.
The union’s head of education Jon Richards said: “Keeping staff, pupils and their families safe and stopping wider infection spread is the most important thing. Any further decisions must be made according to the infection data, rather than dates.”
A Department for Education blog stated the continued use of face coverings were a “precautionary measure” in line with the “best advice”.
It added: “It’s crucial that we don’t rush this, and this decision has been taken with consideration to the relaxing of other measures across society over the coming weeks.”