Face masks in schools will not be compulsory, says minister
- Credit: PA
Face coverings and asymptomatic Covid-19 tests in secondary schools will not be compulsory when pupils return to class on March 8, the schools minister has confirmed.
In interviews on Thursday, Nick Gibb acknowledged that it is "more challenging" to teach with face masks, but he said wearing them is "highly recommended".
He said: "We are saying it is not mandatory for schools to have masks in classrooms but it is highly recommended because we want to do everything we can to reduce the risk of transmission in the school."
Chris Snudden, Norfolk’s director of learning and inclusion, said: “There is strong encouragement for young people to wear face coverings. It cannot be absolutely compulsory and we wouldn’t want it to be, just as it isn’t elsewhere.
“However schools will have to accommodate those youngsters differently where they are reluctant to wear a face mask.”
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Mr Gibb also appealed to parents to allow their secondary school-age children to take part in regular voluntary rapid coronavirus tests from March 8.
Over the first two weeks of term, secondary school and college pupils will be asked to take three Covid-19 tests on site and one at home. They will then be sent home-testing kits to do twice-weekly.
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He said: "Of course we can't make it mandatory on parents but we just hope that most parents will see the wisdom of testing their children twice a week."