Ruth Maguire MSP has welcomed the latest Scottish Government update in guidance on the wearing of face coverings inside schools.

Following the latest scientific and public health advice, including World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines, face coverings should now (unless exemptions apply) be worn:

  • in secondary schools, by adults and all pupils moving around the school, such as in corridors and communal areas where physical distancing is difficult to maintain
  • on dedicated school transport by all children aged five and over, bringing it into line with guidance for public transport.

The wearing of face coverings inside classrooms will remain optional for pupils and staff as there is greater scope for physical distancing. Face coverings can also have an impact on learning and teaching.

However, guidance remains that where adults cannot keep 2m distance and are interacting face-to-face for a sustained period (about 15 minutes or more), face coverings should be worn.

The SNP MSP said: “The update in guidance for face coverings is sensible and allows minimal disruption to learning in classrooms and makes allowances for situations where physical distancing is still possible.

“Schools in North Ayrshire will asked to be sure that children and young people are given clear instructions on the new guidelines and 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.”

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.

“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.”

Guidance can be viewed in full on the Scottish Government website.