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Nicola Sturgeon to review school Covid rules as pressure grows on face masks and ventilation

Nicola Sturgeon is under pressure to address ventilation in schools.

Nicola Sturgeon is set to review school Covid rules ahead of her virus update on Tuesday with renewed calls to scrap face masks for pupils and improve ventilation.

The First Minister will announce any changes to current protective measures for youngsters and teachers in Holyrood after consulting with experts.

But the SNP have been accused of failing to do enough to ensure classrooms are safe for kids with many still becoming infected.

Ms Sturgeon came in for heavy criticism as it emerged some schools may cut off the bottom of classroom doors in a desperate attempt to improve airflow.

The SNP’s rivals claimed Scottish Government plans to enhance ventilation measures were “lacking in scale and detail”.

A teaching union blasted the idea to “undercut” class doors as “frankly bizarre”.

And the Scottish Conservatives urged the government to consign the “bonkers idea into the bin”.

Ex-Holyrood Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie said £5 million increased funding for ventilation should have been handed over to local councils earlier in the pandemic.

Masks row continues

Meanwhile, the row over whether kids should wear face coverings went on with the Tories urging for school rules to be scrapped and unions arguing current protections should remain.

Currently secondary school pupils and teachers across Scotland still must wear masks in classrooms and corridors.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Face coverings remained compulsory in most indoor venues north of the border when moving around after virus restrictions on gatherings were binned.

Tory shadow minister for children and young people Meghan Gallacher said: “The SNP must end the requirement for face masks for school pupils immediately.

“Despite the Covid data being positive and leading experts predicting the end of the need to wear them, Nicola Sturgeon has refused to budge.

‘Simply unfair’

“It is simply unfair that adults can be in pubs without having to wear a mask yet pupils are having their education held back by having to wear them in classrooms.

“And if she is serious about improving ventilations in our schools, then she must confirm that she has consigned her bonkers idea to chop the bottom of doors off into the bin.”

Teaching union NASUWT’s Scotland official Mike Corbett said: “The last figures we saw for positive case numbers in school-age children were record-breakingly high.

“Therefore, we remain fully supportive of all the existing health and safety mitigations in schools.

“These case figures would need to drop significantly before we could be convinced that the removal of any more mitigations was sensible at this time.”

Continued caution is prudent at this stage.

– First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

The Scottish Government’s advisory sub-group on education and children’s issues will convene on Tuesday before Ms Sturgeon’s update to parliament.

Last week the First Minister said: “No one wants young people to have to wear face coverings in the class room for a moment longer than necessary.

“But given the current uncertainty about infection trends in the immediate future, and the relatively high levels of Covid in younger age groups, continued caution is prudent at this stage.

“The sub-group will consider the issue of face coverings again at its meeting on February 8.”

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