PUPILS at a Christchurch school will have to wear face masks all the time - even in the classroom.

Head teacher of Twynham School Jy Taylor has warned parents of his decision in a letter.

Pupils are due to return to the Sopers Lane school, which has more than 1,800 pupils, on Monday September 7.

In a letter to parents, Mr Taylor said: "Throughout this pandemic we have approached everything with a measured and cautious approach and there are still many unknowns.

"As a result we have made the decision that all students will be required to wear a facemask when they are inside any building at Twynham School. This applies to all students in all settings, including in the classroom (there will be some exemption when students can be distanced appropriately).

"This has been a very complex decision and one that has not been made lightly. We are aware that this may not be a popular decision with students and we do have some concerns about their ability to communicate in the classroom."

He said the concerns have been outweighed by the following three factors.

"Face coverings will reduce the rate of transmission. It is our duty of care to do everything to keep students, their families and our staff as safe as we can.

"A positive case within the school community is likely to lead to groups of students needing to self-isolate for a period of time and possibly year groups, or even the whole school being forced into partial or full-closure. Students have already missed too much of their education and we should do all that we can to keep our school open to all students.

"We simply do not have enough information as yet. No-one knows what the impact of reopening schools fully in England will have on rates of transmission. No-one knows to what extent the classroom experience for students is inhibited by the wearing of facemasks (we know that students in other countries seem to cope perfectly well). In the face of these unknowns, beginning the academic year in this manner seems the most sensible course of action."

The letter goes on: "It is important to note that Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole remains an area of very low risk with the most recent Public Health figures showing that there have been just 18 cases in BCP in the week 20th-26th August.

"Face coverings have become an everyday part of society and many of our students will be reassured by this decision. It seems very unlikely that children, if they do catch Covid-19, will become very ill. My concern is for parents, grandparents and our staff who are in daily contact with our children.

"All of the advice about facemasks says that wearing them protects other people, so making them voluntary for a few will have little impact unless they are worn by the vast majority. We pride ourselves on the value of every individual at Twynham School and we work tirelessly to bring our community closer together. The wearing of facemasks in school is one further way in which we can look after each other.

"In making this decision we have had to consider the specific context of Twynham School. We are a heavily oversubscribed school of 1800 students. We have a Sixth Form of 450 students. Every classroom is full with students. The physical size of our school and of our classrooms mean that we cannot create significant space between students and our corridors, despite the impeccable behaviour of our students, can be crowded during transitions. Other headteachers will be guided by their own context – there is no right answer and I fully respect their decisions."