Commenting on new guidance prompted by the Omicron variant, Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: 

"We welcome the DfE guidance that masks must be worn by adults and children in year 7 and above in communal areas. We think the DfE should go further and encourage mask-wearing in secondary classrooms and also plan investment to improve ventilation and air filtration. 

"These steps can all help reduce the spread of Covid and thereby reduce disruption to education. Omicron makes the threat of disruption of education all the clearer: any close contacts of an Omicron case, staff or pupils, will have to self-isolate for 10 days, whether vaccinated or not. 

"Such steps are all the more important because vaccination has not yet been offered to even a majority of secondary children."