Schools to bring back face masks if Covid cases are high in their area

SCHOOLS can bring back mask rules if there are high levels of Covid in their local area, Nadhim Zahawi said today.

The education secretary said pupils may have to start wearing face coverings in communal areas like hallways and canteens.

His remarks come after the PM was forced to order reluctant headteachers to ditch the use of masks in classrooms.

Some overcautious schools are resisting the Government's advice that face coverings are no longer necessary.

Teachers were told to stop making kids wear them during lessons last Friday.

And they should be dropped for communal areas too from Thursday morning, when Plan B restrictions in England expire.

Asked about reluctant schools, Mr Zahawi said: "We trust school heads and school leaders to do the right thing.

"I think they would agree that masks can be a challenge for learning, for communication in the classroom.

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"Which is why I wanted them not to last a day longer than necessary when we saw the data from the scientists that Omicron was plateauing.

"The guidance for wearing masks will fall away as part of plan B this week. That's the right thing to do."

"If there is an outbreak in a locality, they can be reintroduce masks temporarily in communal areas if they want to."

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Asked if he'll sanction schools that refuse to end mask wearing, he replied: "No. I will work with headteachers to support them where we can."

Last week Downing St hit out at schools defying government advice by insisting that face coverings still be worn in lessons.

The PM's spokesman said pupils had suffered enough during the pandemic and now desperately needed a return to normality.

He said: "Children have been one of the hardest hit as a result of the disruption throughout the pandemic, and we recognise the impact this has had on their education.

"The Prime Minister believes it’s vital that children are receiving face-to-face education and can enjoy a normal experience in the classroom.

"The Prime Minister also thinks that schools should follow the latest guidance.

"We've been clear that we removed the requirement for face masks to be worn in classrooms, and will remove advice for face masks to be worn in communal areas from 27 January."

More than 100 schools have reportedly written to parents to insist kids keep wearing masks in classes.

They have been backed by gloomy unions who have questioned the rule-loosening announced last week.

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