Boris Johnson under pressure to explain science behind school face masks U-turn

The government must provide a clear explanation of the science behind its school face-masks U-turn to quell confusion before children in England and Wales return to the classroom next week, the chair of the House of Commons’ influential education committee has said.

Senior Conservative MP Robert Halfon warned on Tuesday that Boris Johnson had just 24 hours to deliver clarity on whether English pupils should wear masks, and told The Independent today he was satisfied with the outcome announced last night, under which face coverings will be mandatory in communal areas of schools in local lockdown regions, but headteachers will have discretion over their use elsewhere in the country.

But he said it was vital for the government’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty to now provide a clear explanation to parents, pupils and teachers about the science behind the new face-mask rules, which ministers had been resisting until late last night.

“I think the problem so far has been confusion about the position,” he said.

As recently as Monday, Prof Whitty’s deputy CMO Jenny Harries said the evidence on whether children over 12 should wear masks in schools was “not strong”.

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