Pupils to wear masks in England’s classrooms
Secondary school pupils in England will be expected to wear masks in class to tackle Omicron, it has been announced.
It is hoped that the temporary move will address concerns about schools remaining open for face-to-face learning this coming term.
This comes after school staff called upon the government to take urgent action to limit the spread of the virus.
Pupils are also being asked to take part in onsite Covid testing as schools prepare to reopen next week.
Despite some individual schools and local authorities already requiring masks in classrooms, England was, until now, the only UK nation where face masks were not recommended for pupils in classrooms.
Teachers will not be expected to wear them under the new rules.
Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said face coverings would be required until 26 January, hopefully allowing schools to remain open as the nation battles the Omicron variant.
He said education was the “number one priority” and that the government would do “everything in our power” to minimise disruption.
Labour’s shadow health secretary Wes Streeting added that while he did not think anyone would be “over the moon” about masks being worn in schools, it was better than school closures and children missing out on more learning than they already have.
The decision impacts more than 24,400 schools.
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