All secondary school pupils in England have to take Covid tests at least once before being allowed to join class tomorrow. Plans to put them on masks are now abandoned.

According to the Department of Education, head teachers can access their own supplies of coronavirus samples to satisfy demand.

This is despite the nationwide shortage of test kits. Ministers claim that each school has received a supply.

Students will need to be able to pass lateral flow exams twice per week. 

It comes after the Education Secretary said entire classes may need to be merged into larger groups or sent home to work remotely due to teacher absences caused by coronavirus.

Schools may find it ‘impossible’ to deliver face-to-face teaching to all pupils as the Omicron variant leads to mass staff shortages, Nadhim Zahawi added.

But the idea they will also have to wear masks for much of the day has been slated by former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith.

The Telegraph reported that he believed this was premature. We’ll likely see Covid increase and fall as it did in South Africa.

“It is better to have pupils tested for Covid rather than mandate that they wear masks. They won’t prevent contact between children and will only be used in a bad way.

“I have no idea who they are protecting – teachers need to be triple jabbed.” This is a serious problem that could cause irreparable damage to the schooling system.

Pupils will be expected to take lateral flow tests twice a week as well when they go back tomorrow

When they return tomorrow, pupils will need to complete lateral flow testing twice per week.

Department for Education says head teachers have access to their own supply of coronavirus swabs to meet demand

Department of Education: Head teachers can access their own supplies coronavirus samples to satisfy demand

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said entire classes may need to be merged into larger groups

Nadhim Zhawi, education secretary, suggested that whole classes could be amalgamated into larger groups.

The Department for Education announced that pupils in secondary schools will be required to use masks when they enter classrooms.

This morning, LBC’s John Sullivan said that facemasks provide some relief.

“And if my choice is that I want the children to learn together in the classroom, then this would be one of our options. 

Yesterday’s open letter was sent to schools by Mr Zahawi. It stated that remote learning should only be used as a temporary measure and that all schools must return to regular in-person attendance as soon possible.

He said, “If you face operational difficulties due to shortages of workforce in your environment make it impossible to deliver face-to-face instruction, I encourage you to think about ways to adapt to learn.”

It could mean that all staff are used to “maximize on-site education for the most pupils possible” while schools can ‘flexibly provide provision on-site and remotely to some pupils. But, he said that such arrangements are temporary.

The Government has faced mounting criticism over its decision to reintroduce face masks, with critics saying it a 'declaration of war against children' (file image)

Reintroduction of face masks has drawn criticism from the government. (file photo)

Pictured: The number of Covid infections in the UK yesterday

Pictured is the number of Covid-related infections that occurred in the UK yesterday

He said, “If you face operational difficulties due to shortages of workforce in your environment make it impossible to deliver face-to-face instruction, I encourage you to think about ways to adapt to learn.”

The schools could use all of their staff to provide on-site support for some students, while the school’s can provide flexible provision. But, he said that such arrangements are temporary.

If you don’t have the option of sending your children home to study remotely, there are other alternatives. You can bring in staff or combine classes into larger groups.

At the beginning of this month, less than 3% of teachers reported being sick. But worries are growing that numbers could rise sharply – with one of Britain’s largest academy trusts saying it had experienced staff absence levels of 10 per cent.

Unions also predicted disruption that ‘looks sadly inevitable’ when the new term begins.

It has come under fire from critics for its decision to reinstate face masks.

Teachers and unions generally supported the decision, noting that remote learning is better.

Boris Johnson in August 2020 called the idea that students should wear masks to school ‘nonsensical. However, the recommendation was put in place for two more months in March. It will still be in effect from January 26th to the end of the next term.

Geoff Barton is the general secretary of Association of School and College Leaders. He stated that “Face covers are recommended in communal areas to pupils in years 7 and higher.”

“Pupils have grown to use them and it is not difficult for schools or colleges to reintroduce face covers in the classrooms.

Dr Mary Bousted (joint general secretary) of the National Education Union said that masks are unlikely to have any’significant mental effects’ on students. 

Pictured: The number of Covid hospitalisations in London up until December 31

Pictured: Covid Hospitalisations in London, December 31, 2008. 

“We have secondary schools in Wales (and Scotland) that allow mask-wearing, and it doesn’t seem to be a problem. The founder of Oasis Community Learning academy trust, Rev Steve Chalke said that although it wasn’t ideal, it was better than having masks enforced in the classrooms.

Sky News interviewed him and said: “We don’t have the money to pay for lost school days. We know from media reports that children left alone are not only bad for them but also for society.

Robert Halfon (Tory MP and chairman of the Commons Education Committee) told Sky News that he wants the Government to present the evidence in the Commons to support the decision.

“Masks aren’t required at restaurants or offices, so why do we ask young children to wear them?” He said.

And Us For Them was founded by parents who have fought to stop schools closing during pandemics. It said that it is ‘dumbfounded” by this decision.

“Kids” should never be seen as political pawns. The group stated that this is “a declaration of war on children”.

It was also announced that schools, colleges, and early-years programs will receive approximately 7,000 units of air cleaners to help improve the air quality. The announcement also stated that staff and pupils are encouraged to perform self-tests at home prior to returning and begin testing two-weekly at school.

The Department for Education stated that schools and colleges could obtain testing through a different supply route, and that they would have access to more if needed.

According to a Government spokesperson, masks and other methods will help’maximize the number of students in school’ over the’maximum time frame’.