ALL secondary school pupils in Blackburn with Darwen will have to wear masks, when they return to the classroom next week.

Face coverings will have to be worn in communal areas and corridors.

Students in Burnley, Hyndburn and Pendle will have to follow the same rules.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson made the change in policy this morning for areas where local lockdowns have been introduced, and headteachers will have the option to ask pupils to wear them elsewhere in the country.

Blackburn with Darwen Council, where eight wards are under tight coronavirus restrictions and nine wards have been released from them, has opted for a borough-wide introduction of the mask-wearing rule for clarity and simplicity for students, parents and teachers.

Lancashire County Council has adopted the new guidance for Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle and Preston where the tighter Covid-19 restrictions are in force but not for other boroughs, including Ribble Valley and Rossendale, where the rules have been relaxed.

Dominic Harrison, Blackburn with Darwen’s director of public health, said: “We are advising all our high schools and post 16 settings in Blackburn with Darwen to use face coverings and are working with schools to ensure this is part of detailed risk assessments already in place.

"Many wards in the borough are in a high risk area and it is important that pupils, parents and staff feel reassured that school is a safe place to be. We are looking forward to welcoming back all our children and staff following the summer break. Returning to school is so vital for our children’s education and wellbeing.

“The chief medical officers from all four nations in the United Kingdom have made it clear that the overall risks to children from coronavirus (Covid-19) in relation to education settings is low and that the risks associated with not being in school certainly outweigh those of being in school. Arrangements are also in place for those children who are exempt either for medical or other reasons."