Students "strongly advised" to wear face masks from Monday, government tells secondary schools, colleges and university
Education secretary announces shift in Covid guidance
Northamptonshire students in secondary schools and colleges should wear face masks in communal areas from Monday (November 29) under new Department for Education guidance.
Staff, visitors and pupils are "strongly advised" to wear a face covering unless they are exempt. the DfE said on Sunday night.
The guidance, which is temporary and will be reviewed in three weeks, follows Prime Minster Boris Johnson's announcement that Covid-19 restrictions will be tightened to slow the spread of the Omicron variant.
Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said: "The news of a new variant — the so-called Omicron variant - will have understandably caused concern for people across our country, including our teachers, wider education and childcare staff, parents, pupils and students.
"We are already taking targeted and proportionate action as a precaution while we find out more information about the new variant."
He said the government will "continue to prioritise children's and young people's education and wellbeing" to make sure they can "continue to benefit from classroom teaching".
Mr Zahawi added that the government is working with education and childcare settings to "enhance safety measures where needed" including introducing isolation for 10 days for close contacts of suspected Omicron cases.
The guidance, which also applies to University of Northampton, adds that all educational and childcare settings should continue to encourage staff and students to twice weekly using lateral flow device tests.
Downing Street announced on Saturday that face coverings will be required in shops and on public transport from Tuesday (November 30).