‘Potential’ for face masks in Welsh schools, Mark Drakeford says

The decision on whether children in Wales will be required to wear face coverings in schools will be made later on Wednesday, the First Minister has said.

Mark Drakeford said there was “potential” for the use of masks to be introduced in school buildings where pupils cannot safely walk around its premises and in areas where there are local spikes.

Speaking at Wednesday’s Welsh Parliament plenary, Mr Drakeford said: “We said yesterday that we will make a statement before the end of today. That is still the case.

“We remain in discussions with a variety of important interests, local authorities, teaching unions, the Children’s Commissioner, here in Wales.”

He added: “There is a potential part to be played by face coverings in secondary schools in a local context were numbers rise above a certain threshold, where particular buildings don’t allow the safe circulation of young people around the school.

“It is for a local determination in that set of particular circumstances, that those closest to them are best equipped to assess against guidance that we will provide to them.”

If the announcement is delivered on Wednesday it will come just six days before schools in Wales are due to reopen on September 1.

On Tuesday, health minister Vaughan Gething said he wanted any changes to guidance or rules on face coverings to be implemented before schools reopen.

He said the decision to review their use was triggered by updated guidance from the World Health Organisation that children aged over 12 should wear face coverings, along with Scotland’s decision to require secondary pupils to wear face coverings in between lessons.