Pupils may be forced to wear face masks in class AGAIN as unions call for face coverings to be brought back

PUPILS could be forced to wear face masks in class AGAIN after calls from the UK's largest education union for face coverings to be reimplemented from September.

Abandoning face coverings in education centres should "absolutely" be reconsidered when kids return for the new school year if Covid infections remain high, the National Education Union said.

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Unions want the government to implement a number of measures in exchange for their support – such as face masks, better ventilation, and twice-weekly tests by public health officials to limit the spread in schools of the Delta variant.

Dr Mary Bousted, the joint general secretary of the NEU, also wants ministers to scrap the "madness" of the bubble system that sends whole classes into isolation if one student tests positive, the Telegraph reports.

The bubble system is proving a big headache for teachers and parents who are relentlessly left scrambling on short notice.

MP's are considering replacing the method with daily testing, instead allowing students who were in close contact to remain in school if they continue to test negative.

The NEU, which represents 450,000 teachers, also believes pupils should be vaccinated, depending on the advice of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.

The demand for continued Covid initiatives in schools has sparked concerns restrictions could drag on long past 'Freedom Day' on July 19.

Worries regarding testing and ventilation are echoed by headteacher's unions ASCL and NAHT.

On Friday they urged Education Secretary Gavin Williamson to give the responsibility of testing to NHS test and trace and an "appropriate public health body," instead of overwhelming teachers.

The groups, in a joint letter with the NEU, told of their "dismay" and "anger" over the chaotic lack of information, that they say is "starting to feel like contempt."

Dr Bousted warned that outbreaks had increased in recent weeks, jumping from 96 to 148 in the week to June 20 – the highest weekly number since December.

She told the publication, "Masks are something which schools and children are already used to.

"The question isn’t whether they should be considered but why they were ever taken away, given that we’ve seen a doubling of outbreaks," she said, in reference to the Government scrapping the school mask mandate back in May.

"Schools are doing everything they can to keep schools open. If we are going to say that contact tracing is replaced by lateral flow testing it needs to be done properly.

"So we’ve got to make sure the mitigations are in place. That means Public Health England taking over the lateral flow testing for schools and continuing that through the autumn term.

"And the other thing to consider is whether to vaccinate children in schools, subject to advice from the JCVI. If you’re not going to vaccinate children then you need to make sure there are ventilation systems in schools. If you take something away, you need to put something serious in its place."

The Education Secretary said he does not believe schools students should be under harsher restrictions than the rest of the UK after July 19, as "children's education and freedom must come first."

But is feared new measures, like binning the strict isolation rules for bubbles, will not be implemented until July 19 at the earliest, when most schools break up for the summer hols.

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