England/Covid: return of compulsory masks in secondary education

All middle and high school students in England will have to resume wearing masks in classrooms, the British government said on Sunday, in response to fears that the start of the school year could trigger a huge increase in cases of the Omicron variant.

The education ministry noted that these recommendations would come “only in the short term” to facilitate the return of students and teachers to school for this period, specifying that these measures would remain in force until January 26, the date on which they would be revised. .

As the government tries to avoid school closures at all costs, Education Minister Nadim Zhawi has also announced that 7,000 additional air purification units will be provided to middle and high schools to improve ventilation in classrooms.

The new recommendations come as the government faces criticism for failing to ensure timely availability of COVID-19 test kits for return to schools and workplaces after the Christmas holidays.

In addition, the scientific and medical professions are concerned about the potential for a further rapid increase in infections, especially in England, where social distancing rules during the holiday season were more flexible than in other countries in the United Kingdom.

On Saturday, the number of confirmed cases in England alone reached a record high of 162,572 cases.

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