In a move that the Government has described as temporary pupils to stem the spread of Omicron, pupils in Secondary schools and colleges across England have been told mask wearing is to return to schools. The measure will be in place from the day youngsters go back to school until the expiry of plan B on January 26th.
The recommendation will according to the government help to keep children in classrooms and to maximise the number of children in school for the maximum amount of time. Many children having fallen behind due to the large number of classes missed as a result of infections and shutdowns.
Senior figures within the education sector have welcomed the move but have also warned that classes and year groups may still be forced to learn from home due to illnesses within educators and reduced staff levels.
In announcing Plan B the government has said an additional 7,000 air cleaning units would be provided to schools, colleges and early years settings before the return of pupils, but the number had been criticised by the NEU teaching union who described 7,000 units as “completely inadequate”.
Welcoming the move Paul Whiteman, Head of school leaders union NAHT, welcomed the moves over masks and air filtration systems, and said “the best place for children to learn is in school. We need to do everything possible to ensure face-to-face teaching continues, despite increasing infection rates due to the new variant,” he said.
Geoff Barton, the Head of the Association of School and College Leaders, in supporting the latest move said “While there are obvious drawbacks to the use of face coverings in classrooms, it is clear that the Omicron variant poses a very significant additional risk to education with the potential for further widespread disruption of schools, colleges, and young people.”
Adding: “all of this is a recognition by the government that the spring term will be extremely challenging for schools and colleges.”
Face coverings had been recommended in communal areas and corridors up until the latest announcement that mask wearing is to return to schools.
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