The Gruffalo author Julia Donaldson slams face masks in school as she warns kids are being 'sacrificed' to protect NHS

THE GRUFFALO author Julia Donaldson has slammed face masks in schools and warned children are being "sacrificed" to protect the NHS.

The 73-year-old former teacher and children's laureate has branded the decision to make students wear masks in the classroom as "dystopian."

It comes as dozens of schools are facing closing with a third struggling to find staff to cover sick and isolating teachers.

Half of the schools in England have already turned to supply teachers while the National Association of Headteachers has warned that the “worrying” problem is so bad many schools are already “teetering on the edge” of closure.

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Donaldson, the author of the beloved children's book, told the Times: “Even if the current proposals are only for three weeks, this could be repeated and become something considered normal whenever there is infection, whereas in fact it should not be considered normal, it is alien — even dystopian.

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“Children are children for such a short time, I don’t think they should be sacrificed like this.

"[Masks are] seen as a gesture that isn’t costing the government any money and as something that is not doing any harm.

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"Because of the climate of fear, people have readily accepted something I regard as unacceptable, and that I fear may now be seen as a normal part of life.”

The former secondary school English teacher added: “You don’t have to be right-wing [to oppose masks in schools]. I know a lot of people who are passionately anti-lockdown because they’re very sympathetic to the plight of lonely and vulnerable people or those with mental illness.”

Earlier this week the PM vowed that kids will not have to wear face masks “a day more than is necessary.”

Experts have warned that schools will be hit with staff absences, with a quarter of the workforce being isolated or sick within days.

Geoff Barton, head of the Association of School and College Leaders, has warned that the Government are planning for up to 25 per cent of school staff to be out of action in the new term.

He claimed that pupils would look back on the pandemic “almost like evacuees” because of the amount of disruption it has caused their education.

Mr Barton believes that there is a “mixed picture” so far on how Covid is affecting absences this term, but warned that Whitehall is planning for the loss of a quarter of staff.

Meanwhile, health experts have warned Covid isolation rules are doing “more harm than good”  with several NHS trusts reporting emergencies over staffing shortages.

Experts have been calling for the self-isolation period to be slashed as workers across the country have been stuck at home for a week.

NHS England data has revealed that 39,142 staff at hospital trusts in England were absent due to Covid on January 2, up from 24,632 the previous week.

Tory MP Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: “Areas of great national importance risk being plunged into crisis by the policy.

“As soon as people test negative on a lateral flow test two days in a row they should be allowed to return to work.”

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