Mask wearing in secondary schools - January 2022

The government has removed the requirement for secondary school pupils to wear masks in classrooms from Thursday 20 January 2022 and has announced it is expected that updated guidance around mask wearing in communal areas will be issued soon.

The Council are cautiously optimistic about the overall direction of travel with Omicron, and will look to support schools in implementing any new Government guidance.

There were still over 2,500 cases of COVID in Waltham Forest in the last week alone, and rates in children are not yet falling the way rates are in adults. In light of this, the local authority Director of public health’s advice regarding ongoing mask wearing for secondary school pupils in classrooms, is that this remains an appropriate and proportionate action that should be considered, (and actioned where appropriate), by individual schools.

The local authority will support any school that wishes to maintain this requirement in the short term – this will be reviewed on a weekly basis.

For any school that has met the outbreak threshold, the requirement for every school to maintain mask wearing for adults and pupils of secondary school age in communal areas; and for secondary schools to maintain mask wearing in classrooms, should now be considered as part of the current amber measures recommended locally as part of outbreak response.

This public health advice will continue to be reviewed as rates of COVID hopefully reduce over the coming weeks, and we will update our position by the end of next week at the latest.