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Coronavirus / Wearing of face masks for secondary pupils set to be introduced

Face coverings on school transport may also be recommended

PUPILS over the age of 12 are set to be required to wear face masks in corridors and communal areas in secondary schools across Scotland.

The new rules, announced by first minister Nicola Sturgeon during her daily press briefing on Monday, will apply to local schools.

The Scottish Government’s announcement follows guidance from the World Health Organisation, the first minister said, but some schools on the Scottish mainland were already advising its pupils to wear face coverings before the change in policy.

Sturgeon also said the government was considering the position on school transport and would make an announcement in the next few days.

Children's services director Helen Budge.
Children’s services director Helen Budge.

Head of children’s services at Shetland Islands Council (SIC), Helen Budge, said the new rules would be implemented once guidance from the Scottish Government was received and council officials have had a chance to communicate the changes to parents and carers.

“We are awaiting guidance on face coverings in schools from the Scottish Government which we will implement as quickly as practicably possible within the timescale set out,” she said.

Budge added that depending on what the national guidance will say, the SIC may also consider recommending the use of face coverings on school transport.

Earlier on Monday the first minister said: “Over the weekend, the World Health Organisation issued new guidance on this subject. It said that young people over the age of 12 in schools where physical distancing is not possible, and in areas with high transmission, then face coverings should be recommended,” she said.

“By way of update today, I can confirm that the education secretary is in the final stages of consulting with teachers and local authorities on a recommendation for the use of face coverings by staff and pupils in secondary schools, when they are moving around in corridors and communal areas.”

She added: ”We are not currently consulting on any proposals to wear face coverings in the classroom.”

Meanwhile, Shetland Islands Council is to receive just shy of £260,000 from a £50 million pot created to support “education recovery”.

Two thirds of the funding will be made available during the current financial year, with the rest being paid in 2021/22.

Budge said: “With additional money for additional staff we will look at how we would spend that now that we have received the detail of that scheme.”

The money is designed to go towards the recruitment of additional teachers and support staff that may be needed to compensate for the loss of learning during the Covid-19 lockdown.