Education secretary defends school face masks U-turn after Tory backlash

a little boy looking at the camera: Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA

© Provided by The Guardian
Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA

The UK education secretary, Gavin Williamson, has defended the government’s U-turn on pupils in England wearing face masks in schools after coming under fire from Conservative MPs over the move.

Just hours after the cabinet minister Alok Sharma said on Tuesday morning there were no plans to review the policy amid pressure from headteachers, the government performed an about-turn and said pupils would no longer be advised against using face masks in secondary schools.

Related: From face masks to Covid testing: 11 times the UK government has U-turned

Instead, in places with high levels of Covid-19, such as lockdown areas including Greater Manchester, children in year 7 and above are now being advised to wear face coverings in school corridors where social distancing is more difficult.

The move – which came after Scotland confirmed secondary pupils must wear masks in communal areas,

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