LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday he was "really pleased" by the work done to prepare schools for reopening next week, a test of his government after it failed to get children back to class earlier this year.
Johnson, whose Conservative government has come under fire for how it has tackled education during the coronavirus crisis, said it was "crucial" for all children to return to school and that he would look at medical evidence to see whether he should change the government's advice on wearing face coverings.
He is under pressure to show he can preside over a full-time return to school after a debacle over the grades awarded to students whose exams were cancelled during lockdown.
The boss of the exam regulator in England, Ofqual, on Tuesday announced her decision to step down with immediate effect.
"I'm really pleased by the work that teachers, schools, parents, pupils have done to get ready," Johnson said of the reopening of schools during a visit in southwest England.
Questioned over whether England would have to change its policy on not advising some children to wear face coverings at school as Scotland has, Johnson said: "You know, we'll look at the changing medical evidence as we go on. If we need to change the advice, then of course we will."
Johnson has been criticised for his government's wider response to the pandemic, accused by opposition parties and medics for being too slow to lock down, too quick to ease restrictions and for failing to test enough people.
A U-turn on using an algorithm to determine exam results this month added to that criticism, with Keir Starmer, leader of the main opposition Labour Party, branding the government "incompetent".
(Reporting by Sarah Young, writing by Elizabeth Piper; editing by Stephen Addison)