Secondary school pupils ‘will return to wearing face masks in classroom’ as fears grow new term could spark Omicron wave

PUPILS in secondary school in England will return to wearing masks in the classroom, ministers have said.

The new advice comes as the Omicron variants tears across the country – and Ministers are desperate to avoid a repeat of last year's homeschooling fiasco.

The rapid spread of the Omicron variant has meant the issues are more likely, but the roll-out of Covid booster jabs should help ward off any major problems.

A string of hugely positive studies show Omicron IS milder than other strains, with the first official UK report revealing the risk of hospitalisation is 50 to 70 per cent lower than with Delta.

Covid booster jabs protect against Omicron and offer the best chance to get through the pandemic, health officials have repeatedly said.

The Sun's Jabs Army campaign is helping get the vital extra vaccines in Brits' arms to ward off the need for any new restrictions.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi announced the measure to help “maximise the number of children in Schools”, reports The Telegraph.

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It will be the first time the rule will be in force in classrooms since last May – but it is already in place in Wales and Scotland.

The measures are being welcomed by education bosses, after many schools introduced their own rules around mask wearing in the run up to Christmas.

General secretary of the Association of School and College leaders, Geoff Barton told The Times: “Face coverings are already advised in communal areas for pupils in year 7 and above.

“Pupils are accustomed to their use and we are sure the reintroduction of face coverings in classrooms is something that schools and colleges will take in their stride.”

Earlier today it was announced that schools have enough Covid tests to reopen safely next week – but some may still close if teachers are trapped in isolation.

All students and staff are expected to be tested for the virus on day one of the spring term as planned after the Education Secretary secured millions of kits.

Zahawi delivered 28million test packs to schools between December 6 and 17, and a further 17.6million are to be sent out by January 14, The Telegraph reports.

This is sufficient for testing when schools reopen on Tuesday, but a global lateral flow shortage could shut classes down in the weeks that follow.

That's because teachers may be forced to stay at home for 10 days after testing positive – despite self-isolation being slashed to just seven.

The replacement rules let cooped up Brits leave home after a week providing they have a negative test result on day six and seven, taken 24 hours apart.

But the at-home testing kits are near impossible to find thanks to low and "inconsistent" supplies – and Brits scrambling to get their hands on them.

So all those who get the dreaded two red lines face 10 days away from the classroom, and even entire schools closing if too many staff are off at once.

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