Earlier in January, we announced the temporary reintroduction of face coverings in schools and colleges to support the return of staff and pupils. We said this would only remain the case for the shortest period necessary while case rates had risen steeply due to the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
In light of falling case rates, we have now reviewed the evidence and confirmed that face coverings in classrooms in schools and colleges are no longer required from Thursday 20 January, and face coverings in communal areas are likewise no longer required from Thursday 27 January. Here we provide an update on what you need to know.
What have you announced?
The confirmation that face coverings no longer need to be worn in classrooms from Thursday 20 January, or in communal areas of schools and colleges from Thursday 27 January.
This decision comes in response to national infection data showing the prevalence of COVID-19 is on a downward trajectory.
Are there any circumstances where I still might need to wear a mask?
Local directors of public health are able to recommend the use of face coverings in communal areas—across their area only—where DfE and public health experts judge the measure to be proportionate due to specific health concerns. This is a temporary measure.
Directors of public health will also continue to advise individual settings experiencing outbreaks. Any local introduction of face coverings will be subject to routine review and removed at the earliest opportunity.
Do pupils, families and staff still have to take regular COVID tests and get vaccinated?
Yes, we recommend that all pupils, their families and school, college and early years staff should test twice weekly. This ensures even instances where people have the virus but show no symptoms are picked up and able to isolate to stop the spread of the virus.
It is also important that all those eligible get a vaccine or booster. For information on the importance of getting a vaccine or boosted, please visit our piece here: How getting a booster will help protect education - The Education Hub (blog.gov.uk).