Young people have added their voices to a campaign to encourage students to wear facemasks to combat the spread of Covid-19 when travelling on the school bus.

As infection rates remain high, as part of our Respect and Protect campaign young people in North Yorkshire have been talking about why they take precautions and why their fellow students should do the same.

Evie, a Year 9 student at Thirsk School and Sixth Form College, says: “Wearing a mask makes us feel safer and then everyone else feels safer, as they know everyone is doing their best to protect each other.

“At the start it was hard as we weren’t used to it, but now we all know the reason for it. We are keeping everyone safe as well as ourselves and it’s reassuring. We might not get it as bad as anyone else, but if we do get it we could pass it on to our parents or grandparents and they could be very poorly.”

Year 12 student Ben adds: “Wearing a mask is safe and it’s common sense, we stay safe and protect each other.”

The students cite a couple of reasons for some young people’s reluctance to wear a face covering.

Year 9 student Harriet says: “People think it makes them look cool and better than anyone else – and some people just follow the crowd.”

Evie adds: “We are at a lower risk, so people think it’s not going to affect them. They just think they are untouchable, and it’s silly.”

As part of the campaign, posters are available to display on school transport to encourage all children, except those who are exempt, to wear a facemask. Transport operators are encouraged to carry spare facemasks on vehicles to offer to pupils who forget theirs. The students believe the campaign will have an impact.

Evie and Harriet agree: “Everyone is nosey. Posters will work if the message is given to people enough. They will soon realise that they are the problem and make changes for the better.”

Seb, a Year 7 student at Thirsk, says: “I’m getting the vaccine. My mum is quite keen for me to get it, because it’s protecting grandparents and also ourselves.”

Ben adds: “I’ve already had my vaccine. It changes nothing, it just means I feel safer.”

Harriet is getting hers to help to protect her vulnerable grandad, and Evie says: “I’m getting mine, but I’ve told my mum not to tell me when because I don’t like needles.

“I’m going to see family at Christmas and I just think it gives that extra reassurance when your family is mixing.”

Louise Wallace, North Yorkshire’s Director of Public Health, said: “Face coverings should be worn by everyone travelling to school via shared transport, unless they are exempt. This includes buses or trains or any transport where they come into contact with people they do not normally mix with. Face coverings help to decrease transmission in enclosed settings, such as vehicles where people are required to sit or stand close together.