Pupils in England will no longer be required to wear face coverings in secondary schools and colleges from 17 May, the UK government has confirmed.

With step three of the UK’s roadmap out of lockdown going ahead as planned, school and college pupils won’t have to wear face masks/coverings in the classroom or communal areas from Monday 17 May.

The UK government said its decision has taken into consideration the latest scientific evidence, medical advice and stakeholder feedback on the impacts of wearing face coverings in schools and colleges. It added that while staff are not required to wear face coverings in the classroom, they should continue to wear them in communal areas, such as the staff room, where social distancing may not be possible.

“Step 3 of the roadmap allows people to mix indoors once again and in line with the latest data, we no longer need to recommend that face coverings are worn in the classroom,” explained education secretary Gavin Williamson.

“Over the past year we have always put the wellbeing of pupils and staff first, and this step is now the right one, as vaccinations protect the most vulnerable in society and we turn our attention to building back better from the pandemic.

“Testing in schools and colleges continues to be important, so I urge all students, families and teachers to keep testing themselves twice weekly to help reduce the risk of transmission.”

“Scientific studies show that Covid-19 transmission in schools remains low,” added John Simpson, head of Public Health Advice, Guidance and Expertise Pillar (PHAGE) at Public Health England.

“This evidence has been reviewed alongside criteria for the wider easing of restrictions.

“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.”

All measures in place for schools and colleges are kept under review based on the latest scientific and medical advice.