With the beginning of the new UK lockdown, pupils and teachers across all of England’s secondary schools and colleges will now be required to wear face masks in communal areas and corridors. Until now, this requirement was only for schools and colleges where the local Covid-19 alert level was “high” or “very high”.
According to BBC News, the new government guidance says that “clinically extremely vulnerable” members of staff should not come in to school at all.
The Department for Education has said that “face coverings should be worn by adults and children aged 11 and above when moving around the premises, outside of classrooms or activity rooms, such as in corridors and communal areas where social distancing cannot easily be maintained”. The BBC reported that the Department for Education added that the same applies to further education colleges and that establishments should implement the guidance as soon as possible,
General secretary of the NAHT school leaders’ union, Paul Whiteman, said in regards to the lockdown that was announced says ago, that it was “beggars belief that schools have had to wait until now to find out how it affects them”.
“Frankly, it is ridiculous that this new guidance has landed on school leaders’ desks less than 24 hours before the start of the national lockdown. There is very little in the guidance that could not have been communicated with schools 72 hours ago.”
General secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, Geoff Barton, said, “It will mean that there are more staff missing from the workplace, on top of those who are self-isolating.
“It is imperative that the government reimburses schools and colleges with the cost of hiring supply cover for staff absence.
“We have received reports of schools having to spend £6,000 per week on supply cover, and this situation is going to become worse – schools and colleges cannot sustain these costs.”
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