THE Welsh Government has pledged to provide free coronavirus face coverings for all secondary school pupils and further education students in Wales.

The latest advice from the nation's chief medical officer asks councils and schools/colleges to decide if face coverings should be used in parts of secondary schools where other measures – such as social distancing – cannot be maintained.

The Welsh Government does not recommend the use of masks or face coverings in classrooms, because any "marginal benefit" in terms of health "has to be balanced with the likely negative impact on the learning experience, including hearing and social communication".

Councils and schools/colleges may decide face coverings are needed in other aspects of secondary school life, however. They are now required to carry out risk assessments of their sites to decide if masks should be recommended for staff and learners in communal areas or on school transport.

The funding for the Welsh Government's coronavirus face mask pledge comes to around £2.3 million, comprising £1.8 million for secondary schools and £469,000 for further education centres.


“It is vital children and young people, parents and the education workforce feel confident that all measures are being taken to protect them as they return to schools and colleges," education minister Kirsty Williams said.

“We have also recently updated our operational guidance for schools and 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 includes school and college transport."

The situation in Wales differs from other parts of the UK. In Scotland and Northern Ireland, secondary school pupils must wear a mask when moving around indoors (but not in classrooms), and in England such policies are restricted to areas which have been placed in local lockdown. Masks are not required in other parts of England but the UK government has left the decision up to school leaders.