Masks have played a vital role in reducing the spread of the coronavirus throughout the pandemic. However, as vaccines have been rolled out, rules have been relaxed and life is beginning to edge back to normality; there seems to be confusion around the rules regarding wearing face coverings.  

On the government website, which was last updated on 17th September 2021, it states ’there is no longer a legal requirement to wear face coverings in indoor settings or on public transport.’ and then proceeds to explain in the next three paragraphs why it is necessary, and advised, to wear a face covering in ‘crowded and enclosed spaces’.  

After going on a five minute search for official government advice of wearing face coverings in secondary schools on the government website, which proved unsuccessful, I found advice from the BBC news section, from 20th October; 

‘Although face coverings are no longer compulsory in schools in England, head teachers and health officials can ask staff and pupils to wear them in response to local circumstances’. 

A lot of the advice appears to rely on people’s own judgement and responsibility, which Ana R (17) from Woodford County explains is confusing; 

“It’s weird that I can go on public transport without a mask on, which can get very crowded – especially at peak times – but then in school I have to wear a mask only in the corridors. It’s inconvenient for me to be fishing out a mask to wear for just five minutes in between lessons, if it is not necessary to be wearing masks in the classroom or at break or lunchtime." 

Although it isn’t rare to see a mask on public transport, a lot of schoolchildren consider face coverings an accessory to do without, even with packed buses and trains. It’s clear that despite government advice many people, teenagers and schoolchildren particularly, no longer regularly wear face coverings as they might’ve once done in 2020.

Is this due to inconsistent government advice?