DECISIONS on whether face coverings should be worn in communal areas in secondary schools in Wales will be down to individual schools and councils, based on risk assessments of buildings and lay-outs.

The Welsh Government has stopped short of making the wearing of face coverings in secondary schools in Wales mandatory.

But the move has been met with anger by teaching union NAHT Cymru, which has said it is "unacceptable" that head teachers be expected to shoulder the responsibility for such a decision.

The move also puts Wales at odds with other UK nations.

In a statement, health minister Vaughan Gething and education minister Kirsty Williams said: "We are advised that while face coverings are likely to be of little value in children under the age of 11 years, the rates of infection and transmission increase after from the age of 11 onwards and could have a role in risk mitigation.

"The current advice from the Chief Medical Officer for Wales is that face coverings are recommended for all members of the public over 11 years in indoor settings in which social distancing cannot be maintained, including schools and school transport.

"We will amend our operational guidance for schools and FE (further education) to require settings and local authorities to undertake risk assessments of their estates to determine if face coverings should be recommended for their staff and young people in communal areas. This will also include school and college transport.

"As part of the risk assessment we recommend that staff, students, families and unions are engaged.

"Social distancing is still required in the class room, so face to face teaching without coverings can continue.

"The overall interests of the young person must be given priority in these assessments and there must be no risk of exclusion from transport to school. Face coverings may need to be provided to young people who don’t have them, if they are recommended locally."

Face coverings must be worn by secondary school pupils in Scotland and Northern Ireland in their schools' communal areas and following a UK Government u-turn on the issue yesterday, they must be worn in secondary school corridors in England in areas under local lockdown.

The Welsh Government had sought fresh advice on the issue in the wake of recently updated guidance from the World Health Organisation.

The full guidance regarding face coverings in schools can be found here.

Mr Gething's and Ms Williams's statement concludes: "At present, the incidence of coronavirus in the community is low, but we expect to see clusters of cases, which may require additional local control measures.

"In addition to the support provided and advice by our Test Trace Protect service, these should be taken in accordance with our recently published Coronavirus Control Plan.

"This guidance will remain under review as the pandemic continues and may change if community prevalence changes across Wales in the future."