Secondary school pupils will be told to wear face masks from the moment they arrive until they leave when they return to classrooms this week.
In a desperate effort to protect the education of millions of youngsters amid a sharp rise in cases of the Omicron variant, Ministers have requested that pupils cover their faces all day – including while they are being taught.
Students are already asked to wear masks in communal areas.
Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi last night said he and Boris Johnson saw schools as their ‘No 1 priority’, adding that they wanted to ‘do everything in our power to minimise disruption’.
The wearing of masks is not a legal requirement, but Ministers expect schools to follow the guidance, which also applies to teachers and support staff.
The measures will be reviewed on January 26, with a Government source saying they ‘will not be in place a minute longer than they need to be’, and adding: ‘It is obviously a better classroom experience without masks.’
Ministers are braced for a ‘big bang’ of Omicron cases and staff shortages when students and teachers are tested for coronavirus this week.
A substantial surge in either could see larger class sizes or a return to remote learning for some pupils.
In London, where rates of Omicron are particularly high, parents have been warned that school closures cannot be ruled out.
‘As a general rule, the more you test the more you are going to find Covid,’ the source said. ‘But the idea is that by containing it early, you stop the spread in schools.’
Read more: Secondary school pupils will be told to wear face masks all day when they return this week as Cult-owned PM says keeping classrooms open is number one priority in the face of made-up ‘Omicron’ and manufactured ‘testing chaos’. Don’t do it kids – the people telling you like this dishevelled prat are mass-murdering PSYCHOPATHS