Face masks in school UK: are face coverings mandatory in primary and secondary schools - when Covid rule ends

Face mask rules in schools vary across the UK

Face masks rules have now changed in secondary schools in England.

But why have they changed and what are the face mask rules for schools elsewhere in the UK?

Here’s what you need to know.

Will pupils need to wear face masks in schools in England?

Secondary school pupils in England no longer have to wear face masks in classrooms from 20 January. Primary school pupils were not required to wear face coverings.

Why are they being scrapped?

England’s Plan B measures are to end from Thursday (27 January), with mandatory face coverings in public places such as shops and on public transport also to be dropped/

However, people are still advised to wear coverings in enclosed or crowded spaces and when meeting strangers.

What else will no longer be mandatory as part of the end of Plan B?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson also announced that a number of other measures are to be dropped, including Covid passports.

He also said the Government would immediately drop its advice for people to work from home.

In a statement to MPs in the House of Commons, Mr Johnson also said mandatory Covid passports for entering nightclubs and large events would end, but organisations could choose to use the NHS Covid pass if they wished.

Mr Johnson said England was reverting to "Plan A" due to boosters and how people had followed Plan B measures.

He also told MPs scientists believed the Omicron wave had peaked nationally.

Mr Johnson also said the Government intended to end the legal requirement for people who test positive for Covid to self-isolate and replace it with advice and guidance.

The current regulations around self-isolation expire on 24 March and he said he expected not to renew them then, suggesting that date could be brought forward if the data allows.

However, Health Secretary Sajid Javid also told Sky News that Covid isolation will only end in March if data supports it.

He said: "We will decide as we get closer to March... based on the data at the time."

Pressed on this issue, Mr Javid added: "We would like to see it scrapped by the end of March."

At a Downing Street press conference, he also said: "This is a moment we can all be proud of.

"It’s a reminder of what this country can accomplish when we all work together."

However, he said this should not be seen as the "finish line" because the virus and future variants cannot be eradicated but that "we must learn to live with Covid in the same way we live with flu".

Are face masks required in schools elsewhere in the UK?

In Scotland, from Friday (28 February) face coverings will no longer be required for any adult taking part in organised activities when they are directly interacting with children under the age of five.

This change will bring the guidance for indoor activities into line with that for early learning and childcare settings.

However, secondary school pupils in Scotland will continue to have to wear face masks in classrooms for now.

Masks must also be worn in most indoor public spaces.

Students also to required to continue to wear face coverings in schools in Wales until at least the February half-term. Face coverings are also currently mandatory on public transport and in all indoor public places in Wales. They are required in gyms although can be removed while you’re exercising.

In Northern Ireland, post-primary pupils must wear face coverings inside school buildings, as must staff if they can’t socially distance. Masks must also be worn on public transport, in shops and hospitality venues unless you’re sitting down to eat or drink.