With pupils across England set to return to the classroom in less than a week, Education Minister Nick Gibb has confirmed that asymptomatic Covid-19 tests will not be compulsory within schools.
He also confirmed that despite Downing Street telling secondary pupils to wear masks in class when two-metre distancing can’t be maintained, teachers won’t be able to enforce strict rules on this as wearing a mask is not a legal requirement.
The government insists that both measures are "voluntary" and that teachers should not send pupils home for refusing.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Mr Gibb said: "We are saying it is not mandatory for schools to have masks in classrooms, but it is highly recommended because we want to do everything we can to reduce the risk of transmission in the school.
"So, there is twice-a-week testing of students, staff as well.
"We have all those measures in place - hand hygiene, the cleaning of surfaces, the ventilation, staggered lunchbreaks and play times - all those measures designed to minimise the risk of infection and transmission within the school.
"And this is one more measure just to help reduce that where you can't have social distancing in a classroom."
Official guidance from the Department for Education states that "no pupil should be denied education on the grounds that they are not wearing a face covering".
Gavin Williamson, the Education Secretary, said the mask guidance was ‘in line with public health guidance’ and would be reviewed shortly after schools reopen.
He told a Downing Street press conference on Wednesday: ‘Again, this is to help reduce transmission. The risk to children themselves is incredibly low. This is a temporary measure to support the return of schools and will be in place until Easter, when it is reviewed.’