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Are face masks on the way out of our schools?

A face mask on a chair in an empty school classroom
Face masks will remain in local schools for now, with councils confirming today that there have been no instructions from the Scottish Government to prepare for a change in policy.

North and north-east councils have had no instructions from the Scottish Government to ditch face masks.

As of today, pupils in England are no longer required to wear face masks in schools.

But First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that scrapping masks in Scotland now would be irresponsible.

Local authorities said on Wednesday that the Scottish Government has given no guidance about changes to the mask policy in schools.

Cases among children younger than 15 rose 41% in Scotland this week, and schools reported a rise in Covid-19 related absences for the third week in a row.

In-school face masks: Changes still on hold

The most recent Covid-related absence statistics show that the number of children off sick has risen in the north and north-east for the third week in a row.

And despite the recent changes in England, local authorities have heard nothing from the Scottish Government about changing the mask policy.

For anyone to say this is the moment that young people no longer need to wear faces coverings frankly isn’t showing any responsibility.”

-First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

When asked if there were any plans to change the mask policy in secondary schools, a Western Isles Council spokesman said that it was too early to tell.

“We have not received any instructions to-date in relation to preparation for changes to policies on the use of face coverings in schools.”

An Aberdeen City Council spokesman said that they “have not been advised of any impending updates to the  Public Health guidance at this moment in time.”

A spokesperson for Moray Council said that face masks are still mandatory in secondary schools across the council area, except for those who are medically exempt.

First Minister firm on the issue

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warned MSPs this week that now isn’t the time to change the safety regulations in schools, despite recent calls for a change.

She said that the recent trends among young people complicate the issue.

“For anyone to say this is the moment that young people no longer need to wear face coverings frankly isn’t showing any responsibility.”

This week, more than 2,600 pupils missed school because of a covid-related illness.

And Scotland-wide statistics show that more children under 15 have been catching Covid in the new year.

But the infection rates have declined among older children – whom the mask requirement affects most.

Read more from the Schools and Family team

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City to Shire: Lochside head teacher to take over at Inverurie

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