Face masks must be worn in Burnley secondary schools IF town remains under local lockdown
Pupils and staff at secondary schools and colleges in Burnley will be required to wear face coverings when they return next week IF the town remains under local lockdown.
The Department for Education advised that in areas under local restrictions, face coverings should be worn when moving around corridors and communal areas.
Burnley, along with the rest of East Lancashire, parts of West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester, has been subjected to tighter restrictions since July 31st following a spike in cases across the region.
As part of an ongoing weekly review, residents in Burnley will find out on Friday if these tighter restrictions will be lifted.
The new face mask guidance came after pressure from teaching unions and followed Scotland’s announcement that secondary pupils there will be required to wear face coverings in between lessons.
While it has largely been welcomed, Labour described it as a “half baked U-turn”, arguing that masks should have been made compulsory in communal areas and that the buck had been passed back to schools.
Face coverings will not be recommended in English schools more widely, the Government said, but secondaries will have the discretion to require them to be worn by staff and children in Year 7 and above in communal areas.
Face coverings will not need to be worn in classrooms, because other protective measures will already be in place and they might affect learning, the DfE said.
The change follows World Health Organisation advice that children aged over 12 should wear masks, the Government said.
Just this week Education Secretary Gavin Williamson insisted measures being adopted by schools to limit the spread of coronavirus meant masks were not required, and a Number 10 spokesman had said there were no plans to review the guidance.
But announcing the change in advice on Tuesday, Mr Williamson said: “Our priority is to get children back to school safely. At each stage we have listened to the latest medical and scientific advice.
“We have therefore decided to follow the World Health Organisation’s new advice. In local lockdown areas children in year 7 and above should wear face coverings in communal spaces.
“Outside of local lockdown areas face coverings won’t be required in schools, though schools will have the flexibility to introduce measures if they believe it is right in their specific circumstances.
“I hope these steps will provide parents, pupils and teachers with further reassurance.”
Full guidance has not yet been published, but is expected “shortly” the department said, and will come into effect from September 1st.
In a warning that advice could change again, the DfE said stricter guidance could be issued for schools nationally if the rate of transmission increases across the country.
The advice will also apply to further education colleges and will be reflected in guidance to universities, the department said.
It will not apply in primary schools because the risks to children in those settings are lower, the DfE said.