Europe

Advice ‘may change’ on face coverings in schools

Pupils in Scottish schools may have to wear face coverings in future, the first minister has suggested.

Nicola Sturgeon said scientific advice was constantly under review, and there was a “possibility” rules would change.

She said the issue of face coverings would be discussed at a meeting of the education recovery group on Friday.

However, she stressed there was no evidence that coronavirus among young people was being transmitted in schools.

  • Where have school pupils tested positive?
  • Is it safe for Scotland’s schools to reopen?

Ms Sturgeon was asked at her daily briefing if it might become compulsory for pupils, particularly those in secondary schools, to wear face coverings in schools.

“I do think there is a possibility that our advice on that may change,” she said.

“The deputy first minister is today chairing a meeting of the education recovery group where I’m sure that will be one of the issues under discussion.

“If and when we change guidance on any aspect of how we tackle this virus we will set it out in the normal way, as clearly as possibly

“But I want parents and young people to be confident that the guidance that is in place right now is guidance that has been informed by scientific advice.”

Community transmission

There have been calls for the use of face coverings to become mandatory after pupils returned to school last week.

A growing number of school pupils have tested positive for Covid-19, but the government believes the infection has been transmitted in other settings, such as house parties.

“They are cases of coronavirus that are being confirmed through Test and Protect, the testing system, in children and young people,” said Ms Sturgeon.

“They are not cases that are being picked up in schools or identified by schools in that sense.

“This is community-acquired Covid that happens to be in people who have links to schools.”

Under the existing guidance no-one is required to wear face coverings in school, apart from staff who have close personal contact with a pupil for an extended period of time. However, anyone who wants to wear one is allowed to do so.

A recent survey of nearly 30,000 teachers by the EIS teaching union found 41% supported the mandatory wearing of face coverings by senior pupils in classrooms.

  • Coronavirus lockdown measures
  • Nicola Sturgeon

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