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Wearing a mask: information for young people in secondary schools and colleges in Wales

What are masks?

Masks are face-coverings. They can be bought or you can make your own. They can be disposable (use only once) or washable.

Masks can help prevent the spread of coronavirus when people need to be close together. They only work when used properly. You will need to:

  • Wash your hands before putting it on
  • Cover your mouth and nose with the mask
  • Put it away in a clean place like a plastic bag when you’re not wearing it.
  • If you use a washable mask, you will need to wash your mask often.
  • If you use a disposable mask, place your mask in a litter bin after using it. Do not litter as it can damage the environment.

What if I can’t afford one?

Some schools and colleges will be providing masks for free. If you’re worried about costs, contact your school or college.

What is the expectation of me wearing a mask while at school?

The Welsh Government published revised FAQs and guidance in March 2021.

This guidance says that in secondary schools, face coverings should usually be worn by adults and pupils in areas where social distancing is not possible. This means you may need to wear them in the classroom.

Face coverings should also be worn by pupils in year 7 and above on dedicated school transport.

You are not expected to wear face coverings at mealtimes and usually you would not be expected to wear them in the yard of a primary or a secondary school. Face coverings should only be worn outside if:

  • the school risk assessment shows they are needed, for example, in a crowded area;
  • you are outside for a very short time, for example, walking between buildings.

Learners should not wear face coverings when running round, playing football or other active games. Face coverings should not be worn during P.E lessons

If you have queries about your school policy on face coverings, you can ask to see a copy of your school risk assessment or operational plan.

What if I can’t wear a mask?

  • You may not be able to wear a mask because of your health or disability, or because of how you communicate with others.
  • Tell your college or school, or ask your parent or carer to do this.  You don’t need to provide a letter from a doctor explaining why. Your school should let you know this is ok and make sure you don’t get into trouble for not wearing one.
  • You don’t need to tell other young people why you don’t have to wear one if you don’t want to.
  • Remember to stick to other rules like hand washing and keeping your distance when asked.

What do I do if I see someone not wearing a mask?

They may have a medical condition or disability that means they don’t have to wear one. They have a right to privacy. Don’t ask them why they don’t have to wear one.

What if I’m still worried?

If you’re feeling worried, you can:

  • Contact Meic if you need advice and support. You can call 080880 23456 for free or use their webchat.
  • Contact Childline if you’re worried or upset. You can call 0800 1111 for free or speak to a counsellor online.

If you think you’ve been treated unfairly, you can contact our Investigation and Advice Service by calling 0808 801 1000 or send us an email.

What if the rules aren’t working well in my school or college?

You have the right to have a say in decisions that affect you. Your school or college should give you the chance to have your say to make sure rules are fair and help keep everyone safe.

What rights are involved here?

Under the UNCRC you have the rights to health and to survival. That’s why your school or college is working on ways to keep everyone safe from the spread of infection.

You also have the right to be treated fairly and supported if you have a disability. That’s why you cannot be made to wear a mask if your health or disability means you can’t.

You have a right to privacy. You don’t have to tell other people in school why you’re not wearing a mask once you’ve agreed this with your school or college.

You have the right to be safe. As well as keeping safe from the virus, you also should be safe from people teasing or bullying you for any reason. No-one should be bullied if they don’t wear a mask. No-one should be bullied for the type of mask they wear. Please let someone know if this happens so they can protect you.

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