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No face masks in classrooms, Boris Johnson warns school heads & unions

BORIS Johnson has warned schools not to ask for face masks to be worn in classrooms.

The PM’s comments come as most schools prepare to allow students to go back on Tuesday amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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“We don’t want to see face masks in the classroom, either worn by teachers or by pupils,” he told The Times.

“There’s no need for it and there’s a need not to have it, because it’s obviously very, very difficult to teach or to learn with a face mask on.”

The Government announced a U-turn on masks in schools earlier this week.

Students over the age of 11 will have to wear masks in corridors and communal areas while at schools in areas with high coronavirus transmission levels.

Head teachers in any secondary school will also have the power to introduce masks in their schools.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson says this follows updated advice from the World Health Organisation.

Mr Williamson said: “At each stage we have listened to the latest medical and scientific advice.”

The U-turn came just 24 hours after No10 ruled out making them compulsory for pupils.

The Department for Education said for most areas of England it is keeping its guidance against using face coverings – but schools will be able to make their own decision whether to ask pupils and staff to wear them.

Pupils will have to wear masks in communal areas of schools such as hallways – but not classrooms.

Teachers have warned that making kids wear masks will cause bullying and distract them from learning.

Mr Johnson’s comments come as new guidance from the Department for Education says schools could rotate pupils on a “two weeks on, two weeks off” rota if local coronavirus lockdowns are introduced.

Students could switch between classroom and home learning to stop the spread of coronavirus, Mr Williamson said.

The rota system will be introduced if local lockdowns mean it is impossible for schools to open as normal.

The scheme had previously been downplayed by the Government – but at 11pm last night, the Department for Education published guidance saying they may be used.

Under the system, schools would operate on a ‘middle ground’ between allowing all students to return and only teaching the children of key workers.

The rotas would be introduced under a four-tier system, which prioritises keeping primary schools open.

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