Masks to be required in secondary classrooms in summer term, Gavin Williamson announces

Covid-secure measure expected to stay in place until 17 May

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor
Tuesday 06 April 2021 16:12
Coronavirus in numbers

Face coverings are to be worn in secondary school and college classrooms in England at least until 17 May, education secretary Gavin Williamson has announced.

And all other existing safety measures - including twice-weekly tests for asymptomatic staff and students - are to continue when schools return for the summer term after their Easter break.

Mandatory face-coverings in classrooms were introduced after the reopening of schools in early March.

A review of evidence on their success so far has found they should be kept “as a precautionary measure”.

Mr Williamson said it was expected that they can be discarded when England moves on to the third stage of Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown on 17 May.

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“Schools and students have done a great job adapting to Covid-secure guidance and working hard to make sure it doesn’t impact learning,” said the education secretary. 

“We obviously all want to get back to facemask-free classrooms and we will do this in line with the latest scientific data while balancing the interests of students, teachers and the wider community.”

At the time of the introduction of classroom masks on 8 March, Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman said she hoped that children would be able to study without them by the summer term.

As schools broke up for their Easter holidays, unions warned that it would be “rash” to get rid of them before sufficient data had been gathered on their effectiveness in stopping transmission of coronavirus.

A Unison poll of more than 7,000 school support staff in March found that nearly two in three felt safer at work because of face coverings.

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