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Responding to the written statement from Vaughan Gething, Minister for Health and Social Services, and Kirsty Williams, Minister for Education, confirming that the Welsh Government is going to amend its guidance for schools and FE colleges to undertake risk assessments to determine if face coverings should be recommended for staff and young people in communal areas, including on school transport, Dr Patrick Roach, General Secretary of the NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union, said:
 
“The NASUWT has always been clear that the Welsh Government must follow the scientific evidence and advice to mitigate the risks of Covid-19 within schools and it is right that guidance is kept under review to in light of changing trends and evidence.
 
“There is little doubt this revised guidance is in response to the practical difficulties schools in Scotland are experiencing in maintaining effective social distancing practices, together with a number of reported incidences of Coronavirus transmission following the full reopening of schools there.
 
“However, this announcement runs the risk of causing uncertainty and confusion. 
 
“Where schools are unable to ensure effective social distancing, other measures will need to be introduced to protect health and safety. However, if wearing face masks or face coverings in schools is now deemed appropriate in order to safeguard health and safety, then it is difficult to understand why this practice has not been made compulsory.”
 
Neil Butler, NASUWT National Official Wales, said:
 
“PPE is only effective if it is used correctly. Face masks that are not used or stored appropriately may have adverse impacts for individuals and for wider health protection.
 
“Face masks are not a substitute for stringent social distancing, good hand hygiene and enhanced cleaning of surfaces by appropriately trained staff.
 
“We welcome the Ministers' assertion that 'social distancing is still required in the classroom' but this is not clear in the present operational guidance. Where social distancing cannot be assured face coverings must be worn." 

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