A HEREFORDSHIRE headteacher has said he hopes new face mask rules will limit the spread of Covid and keep children in school.

Secondary school pupils in Herefordshire, who start returning after Christmas today (Tuesday), will face extra Covid safety measures 

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi outlined the battery of measures for schools in a Twitter thread on Sunday, saying he wanted to offer “reassurance” before the start of term.

In an open letter, he urged education leaders “to do everything in your power to protect face-to-face learning”, using all of their available teaching and non-teaching staff to cater for students on site.

But he indicated that some remote learning may need to take place.


The most controversial move for schools is the reintroduction of face coverings in classrooms for students in year 7 and above.

Meanwhile, all secondaries have been asked to provide an on-site test for students ahead of their return to the classroom.

At Kingstone High School, near Hereford, head of school Lee Butler said in a letter to parents this week that parents should give their children reusable face masks,

He said face coverings should also be worn on any transport provided for the school.

"By ensuring we follow Government guidelines and constantly reviewing our own procedures, we aim to ensure that we keep as many students as possible in school being educated by the staff that know them best," he said.

Simon Robertson, executive headteacher at Hereford's Aylestone School, said the new advice was only short-term to support pupils and teachers as they return to school.

He said it built on the "existing proportionate guidance that recommends face coverings for all adults in communal areas of all settings".

The advice on face coverings in classrooms will be in place until Wednesday, January 26, when Plan B regulations expire, at which point it will be reviewed.


The Government also confirmed an additional 7,000 air cleaning units will be provided to schools, colleges and early years settings to improve ventilation in teaching spaces.

And 12 to 15-year-olds are being encouraged to get fully vaccinated with two jabs and 16 and 17-year-olds are now eligible for a booster dose.

The news on masks was met with concern from Robert Halfon, the chair of the Commons education select committee, who said he feared the move could damage children’s mental health.

But Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary, said he would rather have face coverings worn in classrooms than children stuck at home.

Shadow Commons leader Thangam Debbonaire said the time for making Covid contingency plans was “weeks ago”.

She told Times Radio: “It was really galling to hear Boris Johnson over the weekend talk about contingency plans.

“The time for contingency plans should have been weeks ago, the time for putting in ventilation in schools should have been over the summer, the time for sorting out lateral flow … kits for delivery should have been weeks ago as well.”