Taiwan families baffled by face mask policies of UK-based schools

Taiwan families are reportedly confused by the UK government's policy regarding face masks at school amid the soaring number of coronavirus cases in the country. (Shutterstock)

TAIPEI (The China Post) — The United Kingdom, which is facing a third wave of coronavirus cases, has recently imposed social restrictions, including a ban on both indoor and outdoor gatherings of more than six people.

Against this backdrop, Maggie and Enrico L., a mixed couple from Taiwan and Italy living near Windsor with their two children, have pointed to inconsistencies regarding the local school’s rules for face masks, stressing that authorities have left students confused and parents worried about the risk of infection. 

Maggie and Enrico L. are a mixed couple from Taiwan and Italy living near Windsor with their two children. (Courtesy of Maggie)

Speaking to The China Post, Maggie explained that her older daughter, Victoria, who attends middle school, was advised to wear a face mask in public spaces only, meaning that she should refrain from wearing any protective gear in the classroom. 

The 15-year-old student, who remarked that she has been one of the few pupils in her class to wear a face mask all day since school started in September, was surprised to hear that the school’s principal was particularly concerned about her.  

Contrary to all expectations, Maggie explained that the teacher wanted her and her husband to write a letter to the school confirming the fact that Victoria was wearing a face mask of her own free will. 

The parental statement was reportedly needed if a teacher asked the reason why she was wearing a face mask during the lesson, Maggie said. 

Accordingly, Enrico wrote to the school stressing that his daughter would wear a mask at school to protect herself and others whenever she would feel the need and recommended that the school encourage other students to follow suit to fight off the pandemic.  

The UK-based family was asked to provide a parental statement to explain the reason why their daughter was wearing a face mask all day long. (Courtesy of Maggie)

“An increasing number of people wear face masks in public spaces, even though most people wear them with their nose out,” Enrico said, adding that “some people also pull off their face mask to speak to others because they are afraid that they won’t understand them.”  

“It is a different culture,” he continued. “If you are wearing a face mask here it means that you are sick and you should stay home,” he remarked. “That’s the reason why most people don’t wear face masks (in the UK).” 

On the other hand, Maggie said that her second daughter’s middle school is much more demanding regarding virus prevention. The school has implemented various measures to limit contacts between various age groups by arranging arrival and departure times by surname and year of study, as well as allowing pupils to order lunch online, she said.

According to a policy guideline issued to parents by the UK government, however, school authorities are not recommending face coverings in nurseries, childminders, schools, colleges because these institutions already have preventive measures in place to reduce the health risks.   

A social media user posted to a Facebook fan page “Taiwanese Moms in London” a copy of the UK government’s policy guidelines issued to parents. (Screenshot from Facebook)

According to the Johns Hopkins University, the number of confirmed cases in the UK totals 725,292 people with 43,736 deaths. Some schools, however, do not consider wearing face masks a necessary measure, even as the pandemic continues to worsen. 

In addition to Maggie, a parent shared on a Facebook page “Taiwanese Moms in London” a similar story about her daughter, who has been banned from wearing a mask at school.  

The principal allegedly said that if parents insisted on allowing their child to wear a mask during the lesson, they would have to “take their kids out of school.” 

Taiwanese living in the UK shared their experiences on the Facebook page “Taiwanese Moms in London.” (Screenshot from Facebook)

Similarly, another Asian parent reportedly asked her child to wear a face mask but received a call from the school asking the parent to tell the child to take it away. Three days later, her child developed flu symptoms which made the parent even very worried. 

“If we don’t go abroad, it doesn’t mean that others don’t go abroad.,” a social media user wrote in the chat group. “If you are asymptomatic and you are walking around without a mask, it makes it harder to prevent the disease. I don’t think the UK has taken into account the asymptomatic people.”  

Taiwanese living in the UK shared their experiences on the Facebook page “Taiwanese Moms in London.” (Screenshot from Facebook)

Another remarked that her child’s school has the same policy regarding face maks.

Yet, she found out that teachers were all wearing masks on the first day of school, which led to a heated discussion among other parents regarding the school policy. 

A contributor also wrote that the government had not made it mandatory for students to wear face masks, but only suggested that primary school students did not need to wear masks.

She continued: “Each school has a different policy on whether or not to wear masks, but the school’s position is to encourage children to wear masks to school, even though only one or two children in a class wear masks.”