Students at secondary schools in England (Year 7 and above) have been expected to wear face masks in classrooms and communal areas since the return to school in March. From Monday, face coverings will no longer be recommended for students or staff in classrooms.
The Department for Education said:
"Based on the current state of the pandemic and the positive progress being made, the additional precautionary measures put in place from March 8 for public health reasons are no longer recommended."
It said that the latest data shows infection rates continue to decrease, and the transmission of the virus in schools continues to decrease in line with wider community transmission, "with the latest statistics showing a significant drop in the number of teachers and staff testing positive". The DofE says that not wearing masks will "improve interaction between teachers and students".
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said it was still important for all secondary school students, families and teachers to keep testing themselves twice weekly, to help reduce the risk of transmission.
Commenting on the decision, John Simpson, Head of Public Health Advice, Guidance and Expertise Pillar at Public Health England, said:
"It’s important to strike a balance between COVID-19 protection and student wellbeing and the guidance on face coverings for secondary school pupils has been kept under constant review. Existing control measures in schools including good ventilation, handwashing, social distancing where possible and twice weekly testing remain hugely important."