COUNCILS in Gwent have indicated they could take a different approach on the wearing of face masks in schools.

Blaenau Gwent council has said face masks will not need to be worn in secondary schools for now, but Caerphilly council has secured “a large order of reusable face coverings” to ensure pupils are protected where necessary.

Monmouthshire council has said anything that keeps pupils safe is “worth serious consideration”, while Newport and Torfaen are still reviewing guidance.

In Monmouthshire, Cllr Richard John said he was “really disappointed” the Welsh Government has “opted to pass the buck on this important decision”.

“While there is evidence that face coverings worn indoors can limit transmission of the virus, it would be odd to make them compulsory in communal areas of secondary schools when they are not compulsory in other enclosed public spaces like shops,” Cllr John said.

“As a local authority we are in discussions with our headteachers and other councils about face coverings and will consider all options to ensure our number one priority of a full academic year of full-time education for every pupil in Monmouthshire.

“Anything that could help keep pupils and staff safe and prevent further school closures in this school year is worth serious consideration.”

In Blaenau Gwent, secondary school pupils using home to school transport will be required to wear face coverings, provided that it does not interfere with any medical conditions.

Primary pupils using school transport will be encouraged to wear face masks, but it will not be compulsory.

Councillor Joanne Collins, executive member for education, said that schools have confirmed in risk assessments they are able to “facilitate the necessary physical controls” and have measures in place to manage risks.

“Therefore, there is not presently a requirement for face coverings within school settings,” Cllr Collins said.

“This will however, be subject to regular and ongoing review once schools re-open in line with Welsh Government guidance and the dynamic risk assessment process.”

Leader of Caerphilly council, Cllr Philippa Marsden, said the Welsh Government announcement on letting councils and schools decide on face masks “has created additional pressures which need to be resolved in a very short period of time”.

“We are now working with head teachers and transport providers to ensure that appropriate risk assessments are urgently carried out,” Cllr Marsden said.

“We have also been proactive and secured a large order of reusable face coverings to ensure that all pupils are supplied with appropriate personal protection, where risk assessments require them.”

Torfaen council’s executive member for education, Cllr Richard Clark, said schools are evaluating Welsh Government guidance.

He said decisions will be “based on the individual school’s risk assessment supported by the local authority”.

“We ask all pupils and parents to follow the guidance provided by their own school,” Cllr Clark said.

Newport council said it is “working closely with secondary schools” to consider the guidance issued by Welsh Government.

“The safety and well-being of pupils is always a priority for the council and schools,” a council spokeswoman said.