AN ANDOVER mother-of-two is campaigning to give children the choice over whether or not they wear facemasks at a school near Andover when it reopens next week.

Kirsty Gray, who has two sons at Test Valley School, in Stockbridge, says both her boys are keen to ‘err on the side of caution’ and wear facemasks when they return to school next week.

However, she says parents have been told that their children will not be given a choice in the matter with the school not allowing the protective equipment to be worn.

Test Valley School says it is following government advice which states that the “wearing a face covering or face mask in schools or other education settings is not recommended”.

However, Kirsty says she has been told that the school is going a step further and mandating that masks are not worn, rather than simply recommending.

She told the Advertiser: “I appreciate that it’s a really difficult situation and I appreciate the senior management team think are probably following the government guidelines, but they’re actually not because they’ve removed that choice. Nowhere in the guidelines does it say to not give them that choice.”

Kirsty says her 15-year-old sons, who are prepping for their GCSEs, are keen to get back to school for some face-to-face tuition but had been planning to do so wearing facemasks.

“I’ve said to my boys when they go back next Thursday, put your face masks on and if the school doesn’t like it I will come and collect you, because I feel that should be my personal choice as a parent,” she said.

She also points to the ‘fluidity’ of the situation which has seen guidelines since amended, such as the government’s earlier stance that facemasks were not necessary, only to then decide they will soon be compulsory on public transport.

And its a rule in itself that presents an unusual predicament.

“Usually they get public transport [to school],” Kirsty continued.

“Obviously for three hours, one day a week we would be taking them in but if they were [getting public transport] they would have to wear a face mask on the bus then take it off when they get to school.”

She added: “They don’t know anyone’s personal circumstances at home. I’m asthmatic, so whenever I’m out to the shops I’ve chosen to wear a face mask and I’ve been able to make that choice for myself.

“But my kids, who are going out in potential areas of risk, have had that choice removed and that’s what I’m rejecting to – the removal of that choice.”

Test Valley schools says it is simply following the government's guidelines and that those guidelines say that facemasks are "not recommended" in schools.

Mrs Dean, interim headteacher, told the Advertiser: “The safety of our employees and pupils is of paramount importance to us and the measures that the governors and I are putting in place are in line with national Government guidance for appropriate protection measures for education settings.

“This guidance clearly states that the use of face masks or face coverings is not recommended.

“I understand that parents and carers may have concerns but, I am pleased to say, from the feedback we have had so far this week, the indications are that a good proportion of our Year 10 pupils will be attending school next week, following the Government’s confirmation that secondary schools should provide some face-to-face support for Year 10 pupils, to supplement the learning pupils are predominantly doing at home.”