STAFF and pupils at secondary schools in Wales are being told to wear face masks due to recent developments in the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Wales' Chief Medical Officer Dr Frank Atherton said it is only a "matter of time" before the new Omicron variant is detected in Wales.

And, Heath Minister Eluned Morgan has said closing schools earlier for Christmas will be part of discussions to strengthen measures.

Now, Jeremy Miles MS, Minister for Education and Welsh Language, has announced that face coverings should be worn indoors in schools and colleges where social distancing can't be observed.

Mr Miles confirmed this was now the “national approach”.

“This is a temporary, precautionary measure that will be in place for the remaining weeks of term at which point the position will be reviewed. This should come into effect in all settings as soon as possible,” Mr Miles said.

“With three weeks left of term, it is vital that we ensure that learning can continue for as many learners as possible,” he added.

The rule applies to all staff and learners in those settings, the minister said.

Although he noted many schools are already operating on this basis due to their own risk assessments.

Mr Miles said: “The emergence of this new variant is a serious development in the ongoing pandemic.

“We have already taken swift action on international travel, alongside the other UK governments. We are now introducing an additional measure, while we learn more about this new strain.

“There remains a lot we don’t know about this new variant. With this high level of uncertainty, it is right that we remain cautious while prioritising the continuation of education.

“It reinforces the need for everyone in Wales to get their vaccine or booster when offered, wear face coverings when necessary, and book a test if they develop symptoms.”

Mr Miles said he would be writing to all institutions on Wednesday to set out the new guidance.