Use of face coverings to be maintained in secondary schools

Welsh Government has confirmed that the use of face coverings will remain in place at schools in Wales for the foreseeable future.

While the move to alert level zero on 28 January will see a number of restrictions eased, schools will retain rules on the use of face masks. The decision will be reviewed at the next three-week review point on 10 February.

In Bridgend County Borough, secondary schools have been maintaining the use of face coverings as part of their Covid-19 control measures. This means that face coverings are already in use not just in communal areas such as corridors and halls, but also in classrooms.

There is no requirement for primary school pupils in the county borough to wear facemasks.

Announcing the decision, Jeremy Miles, Minister for Education and Welsh Language, said: “We are absolutely clear, for wellbeing and learning, that it is vital that children and young people are in school.

“Face coverings will remain in school for the time being, just as they are required in most public spaces.

“If the evidence supports it, we will confirm at the next three-week review point on 10 February that schools should return to making local decisions on mitigations by the beginning of the new half-term on 28 February.

“Our focus remains to maximise learning and minimise disruption. I wish to reiterate to learners, schools and colleges that exams and assessments this year will go ahead, unless the public health situation makes it impossible for them to physically run – which we do not envisage.”

Cllr Charles Smith, Cabinet Member for Education and Regeneration, said: “We welcome and support the confirmation that the use of masks will continue in our secondary schools.

“The use of face coverings is already in place within our schools as part of local control measures and is an effective way of helping to keep staff and pupils safe while mitigating the risk of spreading Covid-19.”

Welsh Government has also announced that all schools have been provided with CO2 monitors to help manage ventilation in classrooms, while £95m has been provided nationally to support maintenance work such as repairing windows or replacing air filters in air handling units.