Scottish school pupils to wear face coverings from 31 August
Pupils and staff in high schools in Scotland will have to wear face coverings in communal areas, corridors and on school transport, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed.
She said the changes have come as a result of new scientific advice published by the World Health Organisation, and the changes will come into place from Monday 31 August.
Adults and pupils in secondary schools will be required to wear face coverings while moving around the school in areas such as corridors where physical distancing is difficult to maintain.
Children aged five and over will also have to wear face coverings on all dedicated school transport.
Sturgeon said: “In both of these situations there is a greater potential for different groups to mix and there is more chance of voices to be raised, resulting in the creation of aerosols and of course there is less scope for distancing and effective ventilation.
“So, we believe that face coverings could provide an additional layer of protection in mitigating these factors.”
She added: “Face coverings are just one additional layer of protection – they are not a substitute for the other things we are asking people to do. All of the other safety measures – good hand hygiene, regular cleaning and, where possible in schools, physical distancing – remain vitally important.”
It will not be mandatory to wear face coverings in classrooms, although Sturgeon said that policy was being kept under review.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “We said that our guidance would be kept under constant review and, following updated scientific and public health advice and the experience of schools reopening, we are making changes that will apply from 31 August.
“There is increasing evidence that face coverings can provide some protection for the wearer as well as those around them. We also know that some pupils have found it very difficult to physically distance when moving around school, which could increase the risk of transmission of the virus. And on school transport, as on public transport, there can be mixing between different age groups.
“We have worked with partners on the Education Recovery Group to update the guidance to ensure face coverings are worn in corridors and confined communal areas in secondary schools, and on school transport.
“Schools will be asked to ensure children and young people have clear instructions on how to put on, remove, and store face coverings. Any staff member or pupil will still be able to wear a face covering when they wish to do so.
“We want to continue to protect what we have achieved in suppressing the virus and re-opening schools, and to do the best for children in schools. Alongside this change to the wearing of face coverings, we need to reinforce the importance of maintaining high standards of cleaning, personal hand and respiratory hygiene and physical distancing, where possible. In situations where there is a local cluster, use of face coverings throughout the day may be required.
“The position will be kept under review to ensure that our approach remains commensurate with the evidence and the levels of transmission in Scotland.”