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“No longer than necessary,” for children to wear masks in class says Education Secretary.

SEND awareness: The implications of the pandemic on educational needs of children with SEND

School classes could merge if school staff shortages are too high, the Education Secretary has said.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said that Ministers had learnt a “painful lesson” from earlier school closures. Repeating assurances given by the Prime Minister, the said that no new curbs were necessary but are monitoring the data closely.

Mask wearing in schools had been recommended by experts and he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that a study conducted in 123 schools suggested wearing a mask “made a difference” to transmission of the virus

“All exams are going ahead this year”

Nadhim Zahawi, Secretary of State for Education

He told Times Radio: “It really is based on a couple of things.

“One, obviously UK Health and Security Agency recommendation, Omicron being far more infectious, and when you look at the epidemiological data from SPI-M on this, and we’ve done a piece of work in the department at the end of last year, with 123 schools, where we’ve done an observational study where they’ve adhered to mask wearing in classrooms.

“It’s one of a number of, I think, really important mitigations to make sure that education is fully open and children are in school, in class.

“What we’re saying is, look, with Omicron, because it’s so infectious, we want to make sure that we give you as many tools to be able to make sure that education is open.”

Nadhim Zahawi
Nadhim Zahawi told BBC Breakfast secondary students in England will wear masks in classrooms “not for a day longer than necessary”.

With the ongoing fear over staffing shortages, some school classes could merge to ensure face-to-face teaching continues. The Government believes that it’s measures to ensure testing of staff and children, additional staffing support and improved ventilation is going to make a big difference. The Government is due to review the data again tomorrow and consider and any new restrictions accordingly.

Following the exam fiascos of previous years. the Secretary of State promised “all exams are going ahead this year, this summer.

“I think there’s a big difference from last year to this year.”

Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson accused the Government of “failing to take the action that’s needed to reduce transmission and keep children in the classroom”.

The Labour MP told the BBC the government had known for 18 months that it would be “essential to make sure that classrooms are properly ventilated” if transmission was to be kept under control.

“It just isn’t good enough,” she says.

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