Covid tests and face masks 'not compulsory' but 'recommended' at schools, says education minister

Twice-weekly testing will not be compulsory for pupils to go to school in England but remains “highly recommended”, education minister Nick Gibb has said.

With pupils across England set to return to school in less than a fortnight on March 8, Mr Gibb confirmed it will not be a case of “no test, no school.”

He also confirmed face coverings and masks will not be compulsory in schools – though the government strongly advises their use.

"No, they’re not compulsory but we highly recommend it, it’s everybody doing everything we can to identify asymptomatic cases of Covid, helping to reduce the transmission,” he told Good Morning Britain (GMB).

“The first three tests will be taken in the school that will show the students how to do it most effectively and it’s the students themselves that will do it at home with supervision by their parents.”

He also told LBC he hopes the vast majority of students will volunteer to have tests twice a week.

On face coverings, he told GMB it is one measure among many to combat the spread of the virus in schools.

“We’re recommending very strongly to schools that there should be facemasks in the classroom, particularly when you can’t socially distance in that classroom,” he said.

“It is one more measure to help reduce the risk of transmission in the school on top of the hygiene, the ventilation, the bubbles and so on, and this is another measure that’s being recommended.”

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