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Tags: uk | schools | mask | mandates | covid

UK Drops Mask Mandates for Schools

two girls play patty cake outside
(Liam McBurney/PA Wire via AP)

By    |   Wednesday, 25 August 2021 10:52 AM EDT

Primary and secondary schools in the United Kingdom no longer must follow COVID-19 mitigation measures such as mask mandates.

The U.K.'s Department of Education announced new guidelines last week that said face coverings no longer are advised for students, staff, and visitors either in classrooms or in communal areas.

"Our priority is for you to deliver face-to-face, high-quality education to all pupils," the department said Aug. 17 on its website. "The evidence is clear that being out of education causes significant harm to educational attainment, life chances, mental and physical health."

The U.K. government continues to recommend face coverings "are worn in enclosed and crowded spaces where you may come into contact with people you don’t normally meet. This includes public transport and dedicated transport to school or college."

The updated guidance said schools no longer needed to do contact tracing after July 18.

"Close contacts will now be identified via [National Health Service] Test and Trace and education settings will no longer be expected to undertake contact tracing," the Department of Education website said.

The department said it worked closely with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and Public Health England (PHE) to revise this guidance.

"The government continues to manage the risk of serious illness from the spread of the virus," the department said. "Step 4 marked a new phase in the government’s response to the pandemic, moving away from stringent restrictions on everyone’s day-to-day lives, towards advising people on how to protect themselves and others, alongside targeted interventions to reduce risk.

"As COVID-19 becomes a virus that we learn to live with, there is now an imperative to reduce the disruption to children and young people’s education - particularly given that the direct clinical risks to children are extremely low, and every adult has been offered a first vaccine and the opportunity for 2 doses by mid-September."

The department advised schools to "maintain your capacity to deliver high-quality remote education for the next academic year, including for pupils who are abroad, and facing challenges to return due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, for the period they are abroad."

The updated guidelines affect:

  • Primary schools and secondary schools
  • Special schools, special post-16 providers, and alternative provision
  • 16 to 19 academies
  • Infant, junior, middle, upper schools
  • Boarding schools

The department said it expected "independent schools to follow the control measures set out in this guidance in the same way as state-funded schools, and health and safety legislation applies equally to independent schools."

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Primary and secondary schools in the United Kingdom no longer must follow COVID-19 mitigation measures such as mask mandates. The U.K.'s Department of Education announced new...
uk, schools, mask, mandates, covid
Wednesday, 25 August 2021 10:52 AM
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