EDUCATIONAL settings in the Dudley borough have been advised by Dudley Council to continue wearing face coverings for the rest of the summer term.

In a letter sent to all educational establishments in Dudley, the council say the move is 'precautionary' and is due to an increased number of the delta variant of Covid.

The letter sent out on June 17 states: "COVID-19 surveillance has detected a significant number of the Delta (B1.617.2) variant in the borough. Our current rate is 47.3 per 100,000 of the population and continues to rise.

"This is a reminder in response to the current situation and as a precautionary move the local authority is advising that education settings in Dudley continue with the use of facecoverings for the rest of the summer term.

"Locally, we have had situations where young people attending school or college have contributed to significant spread of the virus, both in their educational setting and the wider community.

"Therefore, we would advise face coverings over the mouth and nose are worn by:

• All students attending secondary school or college in classrooms and communal areas, unless exempt;

• All staff and visitors in classrooms and communal areas, unless exempt."

Government guidelines say face coverings no longer need to be worn by pupils or staff in classrooms from May 17, but may be implemented in response to localised outbreaks.

Department of Education guidance states: "From 17 May, in line with Step 3 of the roadmap, face coverings will no longer be recommended for pupils in classrooms or communal areas in all schools.

"Face coverings will also no longer be recommended for staff in classrooms.

"The reintroduction of face coverings for pupils, students or staff may be advised for a temporary period in response to particular localised outbreaks, including variants of concern. In all cases, any educational drawbacks should be balanced with the benefits of managing transmission."

Karen Wright, director of public health in Dudley, said: “Over the past two weeks the number of Dudley residents testing positive for COVID-19 has increased.

“As a precautionary move, the local authority has written to all secondary and further education settings in Dudley borough to suggest they continue with the use of face-coverings for the rest of the summer term.”