Covid: Secondary school pupils in England advised to wear masks

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Pupils and unit astatine secondary schools successful England are being "strongly advised" to inquire to deterioration look coverings successful communal areas from Monday.

The acquisition caput said helium wanted to marque definite acquisition settings are "as harmless arsenic possible" amid concerns astatine the dispersed of the Omicron Covid variant.

All acquisition establishments including universities and childcare settings specified arsenic Early Years attraction are covered.

Unions welcomed the announcement, but they called for further support.

It comes aft the authorities announced that look masks would erstwhile again go mandatory successful England successful shops and connected nationalist transport.

The Department of Education (DfE) said its guidance was impermanent and would beryllium reviewed successful 3 weeks. However, for astir secondary authorities schools successful England, determination is lone astir 3 weeks near of the Christmas term.

Early grounds suggests the caller Omicron variant has a higher re-infection risk, portion scientists said existent vaccines could beryllium little effective.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said the caller variant would person caused interest for teachers, wider acquisition and childcare staff, parents, pupils and students.

The authorities was "already taking targeted and proportionate enactment arsenic a precaution portion we find retired much accusation astir the caller variant", helium said.

He added: "As we do, we volition proceed to prioritise children's and young people's acquisition and wellbeing, making definite acquisition and childcare settings are arsenic harmless arsenic imaginable and children proceed to payment from schoolroom teaching."

The DfE said unit and students should proceed to beryllium encouraged to trial themselves doubly a week, utilizing lateral travel tests.

The section besides suggested acquisition establishments would "want to consider" whether to spell up with immoderate planned planetary trips astatine the existent time, fixed the imaginable hazard to acquisition from the request to isolate and trial erstwhile returning to the UK.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a raft of caller measures to tackle the dispersed of Omicron, including obliging each travellers arriving successful the UK to instrumentality a PCR wrong 2 days of accomplishment and self-isolate whilst awaiting a antagonistic result.

And each contacts of caller variant cases volition person to self-isolate, adjacent if afloat jabbed.

Geoff Barton, wide caput of the Association of School and College Leaders, described the guidance connected look coverings successful schools arsenic "a sensible response".

But helium added: "This worrying situation, however, emphasises the request for amended enactment from the authorities for the acquisition sector."

Kevin Courtney, associated wide caput of the National Education Union, besides welcomed the measurement but said the DfE "should spell further and promote mask-wearing successful secondary classrooms".

He called connected the authorities to gully up plans "to amended ventilation and aerial filtration" successful schoolhouse settings.

"These steps tin each assistance trim the dispersed of Covid and thereby trim disruption to education," helium said.

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