Face coverings recommended in schools from January 2022.

Face coverings help protect the wearer and others against the spread of infection because they cover the nose and mouth, which are the main confirmed sources of transmission of COVID-19.

From 4 January 2022, we recommend that in those schools where pupils in year 7 and above are educated, face coverings should be worn in classrooms. This does not apply in situations where wearing a face covering would impact on the ability to take part in exercise or strenuous activity, for example in PE lessons. This is a temporary measure.

Where pupils and students in year 7 (which would be children who were aged 11 on 31 August 2021) and above are educated, we also recommend that face coverings should be worn by pupils, students, staff and adult visitors when moving around the premises, outside of classrooms, such as in corridors and communal areas. This will also be a temporary measure. These pupils and students must also wear a face-covering when travelling on public transport and should wear it on dedicated transport to and from school.

In primary schools, we recommend that face coverings should be worn by staff, adults, and those aged over 11 (including visitors) when moving around in corridors and communal areas. Health advice continues to be that children in primary schools should not be asked to wear face coverings.

See the section on circumstances where people are not able to wear face coverings for exceptions to this.

Face coverings do not need to be worn by pupils and students when outdoors.

Face visors or shields can be worn by those exempt from wearing a face-covering but they are not an equivalent alternative in terms of source control of virus transmission. They may protect the wearer against droplet spread in specific circumstances but are unlikely to be effective in preventing the escape of smaller respiratory particles when used without an additional face covering. They should only be used after carrying out a risk assessment for the specific situation and should always be cleaned appropriately.

Some FE courses, such as vocational training, healthcare-related courses and the performing arts may pose particular risks of aerosol, droplet and surface transmission and may therefore implement face coverings, ventilation or cleaning in accordance with guidance issued for the relevant professional working arrangements.

Your child must comply with guidance on working safely if they work in commercial training environments such as:

  • hairdressing, barbering and beauty salons
  • sports and fitness facilities
  • restaurants and external catering

Circumstances where people are not able to wear face coverings

There are some circumstances where people may not be able to wear a face covering. Please be mindful and respectful of such circumstances. Some people are less able to wear face coverings, and the reasons for this may not be visible to others.

In relation to education settings, this includes (but is not limited to):

  • children under the age of 11 on 31 August 2021
  • people who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
  • people for whom putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause severe distress
  • people speaking to or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip-reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate
  • avoiding the risk of harm or injury to yourself or others
  • removing a face covering in order to take medication

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