The ultimate back to school mask guide

Secondary school pupils will have to wear masks to school when they return next week after a government U-turn last week. 

With just days to go before children return, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson last week said face coverings will be compulsory in the communal areas of schools covered by local lockdowns.

A decision on whether to wear masks in other schools will be left to individual heads. 

Some parents have also shared their desire for smaller children to wear masks and in England and Wales children over the age of 11 have to wear masks on public transport.

Here, FEMAIL reveals the best masks for your children, from simple colours to match their school uniform to personalised coverings so they don’t get mixed up.

PLAIN COLOUR TO MATCH UNIFORM  

Marks & Spencer has a great deal on school face masks, selling a pack of five adjustable kids' face coverings in plain colours for less than £10.

Marks & Spencer has a great deal on school face masks, selling a pack of five adjustable kids’ face coverings in plain colours for less than £10.

With the rules around coverings constantly changing, some schools may insist on plain masks to match uniform rules. 

Marks & Spencer has a great deal on school face masks, selling a pack of five adjustable kids’ face coverings in plain colours for less than £10. 

They also sell the pack in pastel and patterned colours for less strict schools, or when children need to wear a mask in the evening or at weekends.  

PERSONALISED

With hundreds of pupils at school, personalised masks will stop your child’s getting mixed up with someone else in class.

Prezzybox offer photo-printing onto masks form £9.99, for a unique design while various sellers on Etsy offer monogrammed masks on a black or navy design for a simpler look. They start at £14.99 for a pack of two. 

Snapfish also allow a fully personalised designs, with both photos and text from £9.99.

Prezzybox offer photo-printing onto masks form £9.99

Etsy offer monogrammed masks on a black or navy design for a simpler look. They start at £14.99 for a pack of two

Prezzybox offer photo-printing onto masks form £9.99 (left), for a unique design while various sellers on Etsy offer monogrammed masks on a black or navy design for a simpler look. They start at £14.99 for a pack of two (right)

Prezzybox also allow masks to be personalised with a fun pattern for kids who enjoy bright colours

Prezzybox also allow masks to be personalised with a fun pattern for kids who enjoy bright colours

ANTIBACTERIAL 

Lloyd’s are selling children’s face covering with antibacterial fabric treatment, which are also water repellent and washable up to 20 washes, which is £7.99 for a pack of four, which are currently on offer for buy one get one half price. 

The mask comes in four child friendly designs and is hand and machine washable.

Boots also offer an adjustable facemask for all ages for £10. Made by the Body Doctor, the mask uses skin friendly, patented, Polygiene technology, which does not interfere with skins natural bacterial flora.

Lloyd's are selling children's face covering with antibacterial fabric treatment, which are also water repellent and washable up to 20 washes, which is £7.99 for a pack of four, which are currently on offer for buy one get one half price

Lloyd’s are selling children’s face covering with antibacterial fabric treatment, which are also water repellent and washable up to 20 washes, which is £7.99 for a pack of four, which are currently on offer for buy one get one half price

Boots also offer an adjustable facemask for all ages for £10. Made by the Body Doctor, the mask uses skin friendly, patented, Polygiene technology, which does not interfere with skins natural bacterial flora

Boots also offer an adjustable facemask for all ages for £10. Made by the Body Doctor, the mask uses skin friendly, patented, Polygiene technology, which does not interfere with skins natural bacterial flora

Face mask storage cases for school 

If you don’t opt for a personalised mask, children can keep their masks in a personalised case.

Many independent sellers on Etsy sell cases, usually clear in colour, with the option to print a name on them from around £4.50.  

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PATTERNED

Catering for any age, The Lion Sparkles customers with a penchant for something unique will find just that when browsing through their range of masks. One designer sure to be a hit with on-trend teenagers is their powder pink design with a tiger print, which costs £18.   

British children’s designer Rachel Riley, who is best known for dressing Prince George and Princess Charlotte has repurposed her workshop which normally makes her handmade shoes to now produce masks. 

British children's designer Rachel Riley, who is best known for dressing Prince George and Princess Charlotte has repurposed her workshop which normally makes her handmade shoes to now produce masks. Pictured a model in one of her masks

British children’s designer Rachel Riley, who is best known for dressing Prince George and Princess Charlotte has repurposed her workshop which normally makes her handmade shoes to now produce masks. Pictured a model in one of her masks

Catering for any age, The Lion Sparkles customers with a penchant for something unique will find just that when browsing through their range of masks. One designer sure to be a hit with on-trend teenagers is their powder pink design with a tiger print, which costs £18.

Catering for any age, The Lion Sparkles customers with a penchant for something unique will find just that when browsing through their range of masks. One designer sure to be a hit with on-trend teenagers is their powder pink design with a tiger print, which costs £18.

She makes masks for children, men and women in her signature vintage prints, starting at £19. 

Frugi, the leading organic kidswear brand has some colourful, fun facemasks for kids on their website.

They come in two sizes, for 3-11 years (£9.95) and over 12 years (£13.96). 

Regatta also have a range of fun patterned masks in animal prints, including sharks, tigers, and crocodiles that start from £9 for a pack of three.

Regatta also have a range of fun patterned masks in animal prints, including sharks, tigers, and crocodiles that start from £9 for a pack of three.

Regatta also have a range of fun patterned masks in animal prints, including sharks, tigers, and crocodiles that start from £9 for a pack of three.

Stressed-out parents tell of battle through ‘HELL’ to buy new school uniforms with EIGHT-hour queues due to limit on shoppers in last-minute rush before classes restart next week

By Faith Ridler for MailOnline

Stressed-out parents have been stuck in eight-hour queues this week as they rushed to buy last-minute school uniforms ahead of the start of term.

Hundreds of shoppers flocked to outfitters across Britain in the early hours to avoid the huge wait times which stacked up as staff limited the number of customers allowed inside due to social distancing.

It comes amid chaos ahead of the start of term, with Education Secretary Gavin Williamson warned he is ‘on his last life’ after his humiliating exams fiasco and will be sacked if Boris Johnson’s schools reopening is botched.

Mr Johnson has visited schools across Britain ahead of the new academic year, after the Government made a last-minute U-turn on face-coverings in secondary schools.

In Croydon, south London, frustrated parents arrived as early as 5.15am to purchase the required clothing for their children while residents insisted ‘we need more uniform shops.’

A sign outside Hewitts of Croydon, which provides uniforms for 80 schools, warned parents they would not be guaranteed entry to the store if they arrived after 3pm.

However, one furious parent urged the shop to ’employ more staff’ as she claimed people arriving at 10am were only entering the store at 3pm.  

Stressed-out parents have been stuck in eight-hour queues this week as they rushed to buy last-minute school uniforms ahead of the start of term. Pictured: Lines in Eastleigh, Hampshire

Stressed-out parents have been stuck in eight-hour queues this week as they rushed to buy last-minute school uniforms ahead of the start of term. Pictured: Lines in Eastleigh, Hampshire

Pictured: Hewitts of Croydon

Pictured: Hewitts of Croydon

In Croydon, south London (pictured on Tuesday), frustrated parents arrived as early as 5.15am yesterday to purchase the required clothing for their children as residents insisted ‘we need more uniform shops’

Similar scenes were spotted in Eastleigh, Hampshire, where shoppers were seen lining up in heavy rain outside an outfitters last week.

And outside Stevensons in Southbourne, near Bournemouth, three-hour queues formed as desperate parents scrambled to secure the necessary items for their children. 

Another woman reported queues of up to eight hours outside her local uniform store, writing:  ‘There’s only one shop that sells school uniforms where we live.

‘There are presently eight-hour queues outside the door, and no ticket system. So if you queued all day and didn’t get in, you don’t get to be first in the queue the next day.

Pictured: Dozens of shoppers wait in heavy rain outside a school uniform shop in Eastleigh

Pictured: Dozens of shoppers wait in heavy rain outside a school uniform shop in Eastleigh

‘There are people who have queued for days.’

In Croydon, customers to Hewitts reported lining up outside the store for the fourth day in a row after they were turned away from the shop when it closed at 5pm.

One woman, attempting to buy uniform for her 12-year-old daughter, told My London she had waited for more than three hours each time and spent £40 on parking.

But Martin Hewitt, who runs the retailer, said he and 35 staff members were working hard to meet the enormous demand. He added that only 10 customers were able to be in the shop at once instead of the usual 40. 

One furious parent urged Hewitts to 'employ more staff' as she claimed people arriving at 10am were only entering the store at 3pm

One furious parent urged Hewitts to ’employ more staff’ as she claimed people arriving at 10am were only entering the store at 3pm

Staff are also not permitted to measure students for uniforms due to social distancing and any returned items have to be quarantined for 48 hours.

Neil Garratt, a Conservative London Assembly candidate for Croydon and Sutton, said he had seen similar queues outside Cladish Schoolwear in Wallington, London.

He said: ‘This is ridiculous. Schools that force parents to buy uniform from one single shop can’t wash their hands of this: they’ve created the problem, they need to stop up to find a solution.

‘This isn’t it.’

In Bournemouth, those outside Stevensons reported ‘tensions building’ as people rushed to get hold of uniforms and sportswear before the start of term.  

Natasha Sanders-Jones told the Bournemouth Echo she had been waiting to enter the store for two-and-a-half hours yesterday after driving to the retailer from Poole.

She said: ‘I had to drive here from Poole because this is the only place to get Poole High and Poole Grammar uniform.

Lengthy queues were also rife in other parts of the UK, with dozens taking to social media to complain about the wait

Lengthy queues were also rife in other parts of the UK, with dozens taking to social media to complain about the wait

‘By the time I get home I will have had a round trip of at least four hours just to get a few bits and pieces.’

Susan Elsworth added:  ‘We drove past the shop yesterday and saw a big queue so we thought we’d come back today but it’s just as bad.

‘Unfortunately we’ve got no choice because we need an Avonbourne uniform and this is the only place to get one.’

The store had been open for appointment-only customers until August 24, when it opened for walk-in shoppers. 

One father said: 'My wife and youngest son have been queuing up for the past 30 minutes to buy his sixth form college uniform, still seven in front of them. The blazer alone is £65, will it last till Christmas? (Not the blazer)'

One father said: ‘My wife and youngest son have been queuing up for the past 30 minutes to buy his sixth form college uniform, still seven in front of them. The blazer alone is £65, will it last till Christmas? (Not the blazer)’

Lengthy queues were also rife in other parts of the UK, with dozens taking to social media to complain about the wait.

‘These festival length queues to buy school uniform is reason enough not to have children,’ one user said.

Another added: ‘My wife and youngest son have been queuing up for the past 30 minutes to buy his sixth form college uniform, still seven in front of them.

‘The blazer alone is £65, will it last till Christmas? (Not the blazer).’

Neil Garratt, a Conservative London Assembly candidate for Croydon and Sutton, said he had seen similar queues outside Cladish Schoolwear in Wallington, London

Neil Garratt, a Conservative London Assembly candidate for Croydon and Sutton, said he had seen similar queues outside Cladish Schoolwear in Wallington, London

One woman in Croydon yesterday reported parents arriving as early as 5.15am to buy uniforms

One woman in Croydon yesterday reported parents arriving as early as 5.15am to buy uniforms

Others were more prepared, with one mother explaining she had come prepared for the wait with a coffee and her Kindle.

Thousands of students are preparing to return to school next week – many for the first time since the coronavirus crisis closed classrooms in March.

Children must return for the autumn term unless they or a family member develop symptoms of Covid-19 or test positive for the virus.

Penalties could be issued for those who miss school without a reason, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson confirmed in June.

‘Unless there’s a good reason for absence… we’d be imposing fines on families,’ he said. 

It comes after it was confirmed this week that thousands of secondary pupils will have to wear masks at school in yet another education U-turn.

With just days to go before children return, Mr Williamson said face coverings will be compulsory in the communal areas of schools covered by local lockdowns.

A decision on whether to wear masks in other schools will be left to individual heads.

The eleventh-hour U-turn followed new advice from the World Health Organisation at the weekend.

He said: ‘Our priority is to get children back to school safely. At each stage we have listened to the latest medical and scientific advice.

‘We have therefore decided to follow the World Health Organisation’s new advice. In local lockdown areas children in year seven and above should wear face coverings in communal spaces.

‘Outside of local lockdown areas face coverings won’t be required in schools, though schools will have the flexibility to introduce measures if they believe it is right in their specific circumstances.

‘I hope these steps will provide parents, pupils and teachers with further reassurance.’

Best value school uniform revealed: Sainsbury’s comes out on top of a like-for-like comparison at £15 – while John Lewis is three times more expensive

Sainsbury’s has come out on top as the best British store to buy new school uniform, according to a new study.

Parents are able to purchase a new whole set of schooling attire for just £15 – £30 cheaper than John Lewis, which proved to be the most expensive in a comparison of seven British retailers.

Researchers at UK-based online price tracking firm Alertr compared prices of six uniform essentials – a shirt, polo shirt, jumper, cardigan, trousers and a skirt – across seven retailers, M&S, John Lewis, Asda, Next, Sainsbury’s, Matalan and Debenhams to determine which ones were offering the better deal. 

Some retailers had multi-pack options and the total number of items included within them was occasionally different (e.g. two pack in one retailer, but three pack in another).

In those instances, researchers divided the total price of the multipack by the number of items within it to reveal the price customers would pay per item, to ensure the results were not unfairly skewed.

The results therefore hypothetically reflect buying one of each item to determine value for money.

Results are also broken down into three age groups to help give the most accurate representation.

Which retailer is best value for money?

 SUPERMARKET

1. Sainsbury’s 

2. Asda 

3. Matalan 

4. Debenhams 

5. Next

6. M&S

7. John Lewis  

4-5 years 

£15.00 

£19.75 

£20.50 

£25.90 

£34.50 

£36.30 

£45.00 

7-8 years

 £20.50 

£24.50

£25.50

£30.10

£40.50 

£42.33

£55.00 

 10-11 years

£20.50 

£29.25

£30.00

£30.10

£48.50

£50.00

£64.00 

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 SAINSBURY’S – TOTAL COST: £15.00

Sainbury’s TU range was crowned the most affordable school uniform for all age groups, with a multipack of short sleeve shirts for 4-5 years coming in at just £3 and a sweet scalloped cardigan for only £6. 

Sainbury's TU range was crowned the most affordable school uniform for all age groups

Sainbury’s TU range was crowned the most affordable school uniform for all age groups

Two red scalloped cardigans for £6.00, priced at £3.00 per item

Three white short sleeve shirts for £4.00, priced at £1.33 per item

Shoppers are able to get two red scalloped cardigans for £6.00 (£3.00 per item) and three white short sleeve shirts for £4.00 (£1.33 per item)

Three white unisex polo shirts for £3.50, priced at £1.16 per item

Two black V-neck jumpers for £6.00, priced at £3.00 per item

Perfect for PE and sports days, Sainsbury’s offer three white unisex polo shirts for £3.50 (£1.16 per item) and two black V-neck jumpers for £6.00 (£3.00 per item) which can be thrown over any grass stains

Two pairs of grey trousers with reinforced knees for £7.00, priced at £3.50 per item

Two grey jersey skater skirts for £6.00, priced at £3.00 per item

And the supermarket even has fantastic deals for bottoms, with two pairs of grey trousers with reinforced knees for £7.00 (£3.50 per item) and two grey jersey skater skirts for £6.00 (£3.00 per item)

… and for the other age groups  

For the same items, Sainsbury’s customers can expect to only pay a fraction more for the bigger sizes 

AGE 7-9: £20.50

AGE 10-11: £20.50

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ASDA – TOTAL COST: £19.75

Though pipped to first place by its competitor, Asda’s George range has reasonably priced school uniforms for primary school-age children, including V-neck jumpers and trousers for as little as £3.00. 

Two girls white shirt sleeve shirt for £3.00, priced at £1.50 per item

Two white polo shirts for £2.50, priced at £1.25 per item

Parents are less likely to run out of shirts before the end of the week with these impressive deals, including two girls white shirt sleeve shirt for £3.00 (£1.50 per item) and two white polo shirts for £2.50 (£1.25 per item)

Two black cotton-rich knitted V-neck jumpers for £6, priced at £3.00 per item

A girls cable knit V-neck cardigan for £6.00

While it is still mostly warm for now, as the winter months draw in these jumpers and cardigans are a must have. Pictured: Two black cotton-rich knitted V-neck jumpers (left) for £6 (£3.00 per item) and a girls cable knit V-neck cardigan for £6.00

Two elasticated waistband trousers for £6.00, priced at £3.00 per item

Girls grey full-pleated skirt for £5.00

With adjustable waistbands to accomodate all shapes and sizes, these trousers (£3.00 each) and this skirt (£5.00) are a must-have 

… and for the other age groups  

For less than a tenner more, Asda customers can get their hands on the equivalent items in the older sizes 

AGE 7-9: £24.50

AGE 10-11: £29.25

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MATALAN – TOTAL COST: £20.50 

The next best store for value for money was clothing and homeware outlet Matalan, with practical offerings which help children feel comfortable at school while still looking polished. 

Here Matalan is seen keeping costs down with a two pack of minimum iron shirts for just £4 (£2 per item)

A two pack of basic polos for £3 (that's £1.50 each)

Here Matalan is seen keeping costs down with a two pack of minimum iron shirts for just £4 (£2 per item) and a two pack of basic polos for £3 (that’s £1.50 each)

Matalan's adorable Scallop Edge cardigan comes in at £4

Their v-neck knit jumpers are also just £4 for one

Matalan’s adorable Scallop Edge cardigan comes in at £4, with their v-neck knit jumpers also just £4 for one

For those who favour a skirt Matalan's smart pleated skirt is £4

A two pack of slim fit trousers is £10 (£5 per item)

For those who favour a skirt Matalan’s smart pleated skirt is £4, a two pack of slim fit trousers is £10 (£5 per item)

… and for the other age groups  

Parents of older children can expect to pay at least £10 more for the same items in Matalan.  

AGE 7-9: £25.50

AGE 10-11 £30.00

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DEBENHAMS –  TOTAL COST: £25.90

Debenhams own brand of primary school clothing landed in the middle for value money, with their two pack of white short sleeve shirts costing at least £2.00 more than Sainsbury’s three for £4.00 offering.  

Debenhams is offering two easy iron shirts for £4.20. (£2.10 each)

A set of two polo shirts for £4.90 (that's £2.45 per item)

Debenhams is offering two easy iron shirts for £4.20 (£2.10 each) and a set of two polo shirts for £4.90 (that’s £2.45 per item)

Debenhams simple knit cardigan is £4.90

A two pack of v-neck jumpers comes in at £8.40 (that's £4.20 per item)

Debenhams’ simple knit cardigan is £4.90, while a two pack of v-neck jumpers comes in at £8.40 (that’s £4.20 per item)

A two pack of belted skirts is £14 (£7 each) at Debenhams

While a two pack of slim fit trousers comes in at £7.70 (£3.85 per item)

A two pack of belted skirts is £14 (£7 each) at Debenhams, while a two pack of slim fit trousers comes in at £7.70 (£3.85 per item)

… and for the other age groups  

As the sizes increase, Debenhams prices only rise by £5.00, with years 10-11 only costing 10p more than Matalan. 

AGE 7-9: £30.10

AGE 10-11 : £30.10

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 NEXT – TOTAL COST: £34.50  

The school uniform from Next, pictured, comes in the middle of the pack

The school uniform from Next, pictured, comes in the middle of the pack

 This year’s school uniform range from fashion retailer Next boasts of easy iron shirts and stain resistant polo shirts, perfect for busy parents but for a bigger price tag.

A two pack of polo shirts are priced at £6

A two pack of short sleeve shirts at Next will cost parents £8

A two pack of short sleeve shirts at Next will cost parents £8, pictured right, while a two pack of polo shirts are priced at £6

The V-Neck Cardigan will cost parents £7

The Knitted V-Neck Jumper at Next is priced at £8

 The Knitted V-Neck Jumper at Next is priced at £8, pictured right, and the V-Neck Cardigan will cost parents £7

A pleat skirt is just £4.50 at the British store

Formal Slim Leg Trousers are priced at £8

Formal Slim Leg Trousers are priced at £8, pictured right, while a pleat skirt is just £4.50 at the British store, pictured left

… and for the other age groups  

Edging closer to the £50 mark, while well-reviewed, the Next range does not work out as the best value for money. 

AGE 7-9: £40.50

 AGE 10-11: £48.50

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MARKS & SPENCER – TOTAL COST: £36.30

Similar to Next, Marks & Spencer promises to make its customers lives easier with easy ironing as well as being sustainably sourced.

Marks & Spencer is offering a set of three cotton polo shirts for £7.00

Marks & Spencer is offering three easy iron shirts for £9.00

Marks & Spencer is offering three easy iron shirts for £9.00 and a set of three cotton polo shirts for £7.00

Its Girls' Pure Cotton School Cardigan is £5

The brand's Unisex Cotton Rich School Jumper costs £8

The brand’s Unisex Cotton Rich School Jumper costs £8 (pictured right), while its Girls’ Pure Cotton School Cardigan is £5

The firm's Boys’ Skinny Leg School Trousers are £9

Its Girls' Permanent Pleats School Skirt is also the same price

The firm’s Boys’ Skinny Leg School Trousers are £9 (pictured right) and its Girls’ Permanent Pleats School Skirt is also the same price

… and for the other age groups  

School uniforms from Marks & Spencer, which boasts of StayNEW technology which reduce bobbling and colour loss, reach as much as £50 for the older children 

AGE 7-9: £42.33

AGE 10-11: £50.00

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 JOHN LEWIS – TOTAL COST: £45.00 

At priciest end of the scale, high end retailer John Lewis comes in with the least value for money school uniform, costing close to £50 for staple item

At priciest end of the scale, high end retailer John Lewis comes in as the most expensive

At priciest end of the scale, high end retailer John Lewis comes in as the most expensive

John Lewis & Partners Cotton Short Sleeve School Blouse, which comes in a pack of two, is priced at £13

Its pack of two polo shirt is £11

John Lewis & Partners Cotton Short Sleeve School Blouse, which comes in a pack of two, is priced at £13, and its pack of two polo shirt is £11

Its Cotton Double Pocket Easy Care Cardigan is £13

The brand's Unisex School V-Neck Jumper is £12

The brand’s Unisex School V-Neck Jumper is £12, pictured right, while its Cotton Double Pocket Easy Care Cardigan is £13

Boys' Adjustable Waist Generous Fit School Trousers are £13 at the store

The shop's Girls' Stain Resistant Pleated School Skirt is £9

Boys’ Adjustable Waist Generous Fit School Trousers are £13 at the store, while the shop’s Girls’ Stain Resistant Pleated School Skirt is £9 (pictured right)

… and for the other age groups  

New school uniforms for older primary school children reach an eyewatering £64 for just the basics. 

AGE 7-9: £55.00

AGE 10-11: £64.00

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Andy Barr, personal finance expert and co-founder of online price tracking website www.alertr.co.uk, commented on the findings: ‘As we approach the end of the summer holidays, after a strange time for kids due to lockdown, the rush to get everything sorted for ‘back to school’ is on.

‘Many people have a perception of Sainsbury’s that it’s more on the expensive side, but that’s certainly not what we witness at Alertr; this isn’t the first time the supermarket chain has beaten seemingly ‘cheaper’ stores like Asda in terms of price for various things.

‘Buying all the items needed for a child’s return to school for a new academic year can be expensive business, which will now be felt more than ever as parents suffer the financial impact of lockdown that has hit many people.’ 

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