All high school students in the UK are “seriously advised” to wear masks in public areas from Monday.
The Minister of Education said he would like to ensure that educational institutions are “as safe as possible” in relation to concerns about the spread of the Govt Ómicron variant.
The guidance applies to staff and visitors to all schools and day care centers.
The unions welcomed the announcement, but sought additional support.
The decision comes after the government announced on Tuesday evening at 04:00 GMT that masks would be mandatory again in the UK in shops and on public transport.
The Department of Education (DfE) said the guideline was temporary and would be reviewed within three weeks. However, for most public high schools in the UK, there are only three weeks left until Christmas.
Early evidence suggests that the new Omigran variant has a higher risk of spreading, while scientists say current vaccines may be less effective.
Education Minister Nadim Zahawi said the new variant could be a concern for teachers, broader education and day care groups, parents and students.
So the government is already taking precautionary, proportional and targeted measures, while we are learning more about the new variant, ”he said.
DfE said staff and students should continue to be encouraged to test twice a week using the lateral flow test.
The department also suggested that educational institutions were “considering” whether to continue the international tour planned at the time, and that education would be at risk from the need to be isolated and tested on return to the UK.
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