British Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi told Sky News: “The priority is to keep schools open.”

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits a vaccination hub in the at Stoke Mandeville Stadium in Aylesbury, England, Monday Jan. 3, 2022, as the booster vaccination programme continues. (Steve Parsons/Pool via AP)
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Schoolchildren returned to classes Monday in parts of Europe, while the British government pledged to rush ventilation units and enough COVID-19 test kits to schools to ensure they, too, can reopen later this week despite soaring infection rates in the UK, AP reports.

Secondary school students in England also will be required to wear face masks when they return to classes after the Christmas holidays and they could also face merged classes amid staffing shortages.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the mask guidance is intended to rein in transmission of the virus.

“We don’t want to keep them. I don’t like the idea of having face masks in (the) classroom any more than anybody else does, but we won’t keep them on a day more than is necessary,” he said.

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