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Secondary school students will not be forced to wear face coverings in classrooms, as some will be “anxious and nervous” about wearing them, an education minister has said.
As millions of pupils in England begin to return to class after months of remote learning, children’s minister Vicky Ford said secondary school pupils should be “strongly encouraged” to wear masks.
But the Government has decided against making their use mandatory due to pupil anxiety, Ms Ford said.
The Department for Education (DfE) is advising secondary school and college students to wear face coverings wherever social distancing cannot be maintained, including in the classroom.
Ms Ford told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “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.”
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EU executive criticises Belgium for Covid-19 travel ban
The European Union’s executive criticised Belgium on Monday for extending its blanket ban on non-essential travel to and from the country despite the European Commission asking it to ease restrictions on movement.
Highlighting how the bloc’s 27 countries struggle to stick to a unified line in battling the COVID-19 pandemic, Germany has equally ignored a call from the Commission in late February to roll back its latest curbs on travel and borders.
In laying out plans for gradually restarting more social and public activities from May, Prime Minister Alexander de Croo said last Friday that Belgium’s ban on foreign travel would be extended by more than two weeks to April 18.
“We were rather surprised by the Belgian authorities’ announcement,” said a spokesman for the Commission, which – as most EU institutions – sits in the Belgian capital Brussels.