Children’s minister Vicky Ford this morning explained the reason why face masks are not being made mandatory in secondary school classrooms – because some students will be “very anxious and nervous" about wearing them.
Last week the government was accused of creating "mask anarchy" unless regulations on face coverings in schools were made clearer.
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MPs also heard that many teachers are "worried" about a full return of schools, with some opposition MPs pressing the government to adopt a phased return in England.
Chair of the Commons Education Select Committee Robert Halfon warned that “enormous pressure” was being put on teachers because of the confusion over rules on mask-wearing, and said the government should “come down firmly on one side or another and provide clearly definitive regulations” to help teachers.
Schools reopening: Wearing of face masks 'strongly encouraged'
But speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Ms Ford said mask-wearing was “strongly encouraged” rather than mandatory.
Asked whether schools where there is not much mask-wearing should close, she said: “No, I think that we should strongly encourage them to wear the masks. I think the vast majority of young people, they get this.
“But there will be some who will be very anxious and nervous about doing so and that’s why we understand that, and that is why we have not made it mandatory but we have strongly encouraged this.”