A YORK headteacher has warned that pupils will HAVE to wear masks in lessons when they return to school next week unless they have a medical exemption.

Fulford School head Steve Lewis said students can't refuse to wear a mask just because they are uncomfortable or because they just don't like wearing them.

He said the Government had announced that it was expected that face coverings would be worn in classrooms as well as in indoor communal spaces, although it would be reviewing this guidance after the Easter Holidays, and wearing a face covering on public transport remained a requirement.

"We will support this expectation as a measure to protect everyone in school, and in our community," he said in a letter to parents. "It is in place to support the reopening of the school. We are all aware of the importance of this.

"We recommend that you send your child with a spare mask each day. Thank you in advance for your understanding on this point and I would be grateful if you could make your children aware of this in advance.

"There will be pupils and staff who have genuine reasons why they cannot wear face coverings. However, these do need to be genuine reasons and not just because they are uncomfortable or pupils just don’t like wearing them.

"As a community we have a shared responsibly to each other. If your child has a medical exemption from wearing face coverings, then please let school know in writing and we will support them."

He said the school would continue to implement the range of measures which had been in place since the start of the academic year, including a bus seating plan by year group on school buses, different entrances and exits, zoning year groups at break and lunch, staggered use of the canteen and staggered finish to the day.

"I am sure that all pupils are eager to get back into the school and begin learning in the classroom again," he said." We want our return to go as smoothly as possible. It is important that all pupils return to school with the correct uniform and equipment and a cooperative and positive approach."

Mr Lewis also said that the Government had confirmed that attendance to school was statutory and parents/carers had a legal duty to ensure their child attended.

He said the autumn term had seen 'superb' attendance figures throughout the school and he was keen that this continued.

He added: "Good attendance is linked to good progress and it is crucial all pupils take the opportunity to further their learning after a long period out of the classroom."