Many Older Kids Will Have to Wear Face Masks in English Schools

English children over the ages of 11 will now be required to wear face masks in schools in high-risk areas.

It’s the latest U-turn by the U.K. government over its coronavirus policy. Until now, Prime Minister Boris Johnson had insisted masks would not be needed even as Scotland had already made it mandatory in their secondary schools.

On Tuesday night, the Department for Education changed its guidance.

From Sept. 1, staff and pupils in secondary schools in areas under possible local lockdowns must wear masks when moving around the building and in communal areas where social distancing is difficult to maintain. They won’t be required in classrooms.

In less risky areas, face masks will not be obligatory but schools will have the discretion to make it a requirement if head teachers deem it necessary.

The change comes after mounting pressure from teachers, labor unions and Johnson’s parliamentary opponents to make schools safer as millions of kids get ready to return to full-time education.

Faith in the government has taken a knock after numerous missteps on schools during the pandemic, including the exam-grading fiasco.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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