Coronavirus: Older children and teachers in England must wear face masks at school

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.

Children and staff at secondary schools in Scotland must already wear masks when walking between lessons or in communal areas.

Under new guidance introduced by Nicola Sturgeon, from this week, children there, aged 15, are being asked to wear face coverings in classrooms in high-risk areas.

Ms Sturgeon has introduced five levels of regional lockdown, similar to Boris Johnson’s tiered approach, with pupils in Levels 3 and 4 asked to: “Wear a face covering in classrooms during lessons in the senior phase.”

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 these areas.

But he said it would be “nonsensical” to enforce the use of face coverings inside classrooms.

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