Older children and teachers must wear face masks at all schools in England
Written by on 4 November 2020
All secondary pupils and teachers in England must wear face masks at school in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus, it has been announced.
Under fresh government guidance issued on Wednesday, staff and students in Year 7 and above have been told to wear face coverings in communal spaces – outside of classrooms – where social distancing cannot be maintained.
The guidance has been issued ahead of England’s new lockdown, which will come into force from midnight after MPs approved the shutdown in a House of Commons vote.
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Schools have been given until Monday to implement the new guidance.
Primary school children will not need to wear face coverings, while those older children with special educational needs or disabilities may also be exempt.
It will also remain at the discretion of primary schools as to whether staff and visitors should wear face coverings in communal spaces.
Face coverings had already been required for secondary school pupils within areas under Tier 2 and Tier 3 restrictions in England, with those local restrictions now to be replaced by the national measures.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “We must put the interests of our children and young people first, especially when the benefits of being in the classroom are clear.
“Children are settled back into their routines and schools have protective measures in place keep their staff and pupils as safe as possible.
“Education is a national priority and we cannot allow it to be disrupted again.”
Children and staff at secondary schools in Scotland must already wear masks when walking between lessons or in communal areas.
Other guidance advises staff to wear face coverings in all schools, where social distancing is not possible, and parents should wear masks even at drop-off and pick-up.
In August, the prime minister made a U-turn on his decision that children in England should not wear face masks in secondary schools.
Face coverings were made mandatory in communal areas and corridors for children in towns and cities that were subject to stricter coronavirus restrictions.
It was left to the headteacher’s discretion outside those areas.
Mr Johnson said in the summer it would be “nonsensical” to enforce the use of face coverings inside classrooms.