The United Kingdom’s Education Secretary Gavin Williamson says secondary school children in regions of England that are under local lockdowns will now be required to wear face masks.
The move is a U-turn on the government’s previous guidance.
In other areas of England — which are not covered by local lockdown restrictions — it will be at the headteacher’s discretion whether face masks should be worn.
“As we saw, the World Health Organization put out the details of their thoughts on this — one of the key areas that they recommended is in key areas of high transmission, there is maybe some worth of wearing face masks … in education settings,” Williamson told Sky News.
“We think that it is right that in those few areas where we’ve had to do local lockdowns, that it is right that secondary schools in communal areas, that youngsters do wear face coverings.”
The government has been under pressure to change its advice on face masks in schools after the opposition Labour Party and some headteachers spoke out in favor of their use. As recently as Tuesday, government figures were insisting there was no reason to introduce face mask rules for schools.
The Scottish government has already announced that students over the age of 12 should wear masks in communal areas and while moving around schools.
The Welsh government is considering its advice to students.