COVID-19: Face coverings for England’s secondary schools

Head teachers have been given the flexibility to decide if their pupils need to wear face coverings

In a U-turn for the government, it’s today been announced that secondary school pupils may have to wear face coverings in school in local lockdown areas of England.

The Department for Education says revised guidance will give head teachers in any secondary school the flexibility to introduce masks in their schools.

Though it won’t be necessary to wear face coverings in the classroom, the rule may be applied communal areas of schools such as corridors, where it is difficult to maintain social distancing.

But in parts of the country with high levels of coronavirus transmission, such as those with local lockdown measures, face coverings will become compulsory in such communal areas for adults and pupils.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said it followed updated advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO), which now recommends that children aged over 12 should wear masks under the same conditions as adults.

Mr Williamson said there was currently no intention to extend compulsory face coverings to schools outside local lockdown areas.

The new guidelines, which apply from 1st September, also warn that “stricter guidance” on face coverings could apply to all schools “if the rate of transmission increases across the whole country”.

Many have accused the government of ‘passing the buck’ on decisions back to schools saying telling some pupils to wear face coverings sends ‘the wrong message’ and suggests ‘schools are not a safe setting.

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