Secondary school pupils in Milton Keynes will NOT have to wear face coverings in school, despite today's government U-turn.

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Changes in the government's 'no mask necessary' policy for children over 12 will not affect secondary school students in MK.

The policy has been changed following advice from the World Health Organisation.

Nationally it is up to schools to decide whether or not to force students and staff wear face coverings 'if they believe that is right in their particular circumstances', according to the education secretary.

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But in areas where the transmission of the virus is high, such as neighbouring Northampton, masks are mandatory when moving around schools and in communal spaces where social distancing is difficult to maintain

Secondary school pupils in neighbouring Northampton must wear masks when they return to school next weekSecondary school pupils in neighbouring Northampton must wear masks when they return to school next week
Secondary school pupils in neighbouring Northampton must wear masks when they return to school next week

However it will not be necessary to wear face coverings in the classroom, where protective measures already mean the risks are lower, and where they can inhibit learning, a government spokesperson said.

The infection rate in MK has been rising throughout this month but it is still lower than the England. This excludes city pupils from having to wear masks when they go back to school next week.

One MK primary school, however, has imposed its own measures and insisted all children from Year One upwards wear surgical masks or full face shields during lessons and when moving about the building. See the Citizen story here .

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Education Secretary Gavin Williamson warned today that if the rate of transmission increases across the whole country, it may be necessary to apply stricter guidance on face coverings in schools nationally.

"Our priority is to get children back to school safely. At each stage we have listened to the latest medical and scientific advice," he said.

"We have therefore decided to follow the World Health Organisation’s new advice. In local lockdown areas children in year 7 and above should wear face coverings in communal spaces.

"Outside of local lockdown areas face coverings won’t be required in schools, though schools will have the flexibility to introduce measures if they believe it is right in their specific circumstances.

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"I hope these steps will provide parents, pupils and teachers with further reassurance."

Northampton has been labelled as an 'area of enhanced intervention' by Public Health England because of its rate of infection, mostly due to the outbreak at the Greencore food factory two weeks ago.

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