By Rachael Grealish
Wearing face masks may still be advised after the expected June 21 lockdown lift.
During the COVID-19 briefing – hosted by the Education Secretary Gavin Williamson and Dr Jenny Harries, deputy chief medical officer for England – today, Wednesday February 24, its been suggested face coverings may still be needed after all social restrictions are lifted.
During the briefing held at Downing Street Williamson explained secondary school pupils and college students will have to wear face coverings in the classrooms, unless social distancing can be maintained, the Education Secretary has told the Downing Street press conference.
He said the measure is temporary and will be reviewed over the Easter holidays.
But, of course, this also posed the questions of the need fo wear masks when all restrictions are lifted.
Dr Harries took the lead on this question saying as rates drop in the summer we may not need to wear face coverings, but adds that ventilation is important and outdoor activity is a lot safer.
However, Dr Harries added she does not rule out the use of masks in the winter.
Speaking further on schools, the Education Secretary the will be an announcement tomorrow on how grades will be awarded this year and said they will being putting the ‘trust in teachers’ who will do the grading this year – not the algorithms which caused the mess last summer.
Williamson was also asked about his long-term plan for recovering the ‘lost learning’ children have experienced because of the pandemic.
He said: “We’re already doing an extensive amount of work in terms of engaging with schools, teachers, parents and children themselves, in terms of looking at what are the next steps to best be able to boost their education and actually come out of this pandemic stronger, bolder, being able to deliver a better and stronger education system for every single one of our children.”
He also broached the subject of extended school days and summer schools saying he hopes that schools will be able to offer time in the classroom over summer as part of the additional funding announced today.
On extending the school day, the Education Secretary didn’t really give a whole answer to that but did refer to a review into how schools can drive attainment when they go back – so didn’t rule it out.
Overall, he stressed the importance of getting children back into schools as much as possible – stressing the scientific advice fully supports it, alongside the rigorous testing regime the government is implemented.