After being urged not to “pander” to the pro-mask teaching unions, the Prime Minister is expected to stick to his plan to end the face mask requirement in secondary school classes when the next step of the Government’s “roadmap” out of lockdown comes into force. Mask-wearing will, however, continue to be encouraged in school corridors. The Telegraph has the story.
The Prime Minister will confirm that the Government guidance is changing from May 17th, when England moves into stage three of the reopening roadmap, according to multiple senior Whitehall sources.
Officials at the Department for Education are already drafting the new guidance, which will drop the recommendation that English secondary school pupils should wear face masks in class, while still encouraging their use in corridors.
Gavin Williamson, the Education Secretary, told the Telegraph that the success of the vaccine rollout and the current low level of Covid cases in schools had paved the way for the move.
“As infection rates continue to decline and our vaccination programme rolls out successfully, we plan to remove the requirement for face coverings in the classroom at step three of the roadmap,” he said.
However, on Thursday night education trade unions – which have been pushing to keep masks in classrooms into the summer – threatened to defy the change.
Kevin Courtney, the Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said he would stick by teachers who still wanted pupils to wear masks, adding the coverings remained in place as a “precautionary measure”.
The Government guidance is only advisory rather than backed by law, meaning teachers will retain some autonomy about what to do in the classroom.
Meanwhile across the rest of society, rules on mask wearing are expected to stay in place even past the “end” of lockdown in June.
The Telegraph report is worth reading in full.