Face coverings could be mandatory in Welsh secondary schools

By Rod Minchin, PA
·2-min read

Face coverings could be made compulsory for pupils at secondary schools in Wales, education minister Kirsty Williams has said.

Ms Williams said the Welsh Government was looking at new scientific evidence about the spread of coronavirus among young people and was considering a range of measures to make schools more Covid secure.

Ms Williams told BBC’s Politics Wales show the evidence suggested that if children did catch Covid-19 they were unlikely to suffer significant harm.

“We have seen a growth in the amount of cases in the secondary school population and it does seem that that those age group children do have a role in passing the virus around,” she said.

“What’s really important is that it says that teachers are no more likely to have a positive coronavirus test than other frontline workers.

“We need to see what other measures we can put in place in our school system to make it even more Covid secure so we’re looking at face coverings for instance as to whether there are more opportunities to use face coverings.”

Liberal Democrats annual conference 2017
Kirsty Williams (PA)

Over the summer, the Welsh Government made schools and local authorities responsible for deciding where and when face coverings should be worn in educational settings.

Asked whether face coverings would become mandatory in secondary schools, Ms Williams replied: “We’re considering whether that in the light of this new evidence would be the appropriate thing to do and looking to see whether there are further measures where we can reduce contacts but also having to communicate with young people and parents themselves.

“We do think that a lot of the spread is by outside contact, social contact outside that managed school environment, maybe journeys to school from school, or what happens in the evenings or on weekends.

“We really need to reinforce to everybody the best way we can protect all of ourselves by following those rules limiting contacts when we don’t have to meet with people and the usual hand hygiene, face covering advice that everybody’s very well aware of.”

There have been a further 1,333 cases of coronavirus in Wales, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 66,214.

Public Health Wales reported another 16 deaths, taking the total in Wales since the start of the pandemic to 2,207.