Calls for date to end mask wearing in Scottish schools

Campaigners have called for the Scottish Government to follow other parts of the UK by setting a deadline for the removal of mandatory masks in schools.

Wednesday, 28th April 2021, 4:42 pm

The UK Government has said the stipulation is likely to be lifted south of the border on May 17.

UsForThem Scotland, a parents group that has campaigned for the return to school amid lockdown restrictions, said there should be a similar cut off north of the border. Some high school students have had to wear masks in the classroom since October, with the measure extended to all age groups since the phased return to school last month.

The group said pupils had to spend more time in a mask than almost any other occupation, and highlighted that people could now drink freely in beer gardens without a covering.

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Head boy Jordy Yahve and head girl Orla Irvine head for lessons at St Andrew's RC Secondary School in Glasgow as more pupils are returning to school in Scotland in the latest phase of lockdown easing last month.

The organisation also said parents often referred to the fact politicians in both the Scottish and UK parliaments could speak freely in debates without a mask, while youngsters had to keep theirs on during class time.

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At the weekend, it was reported that leading scientists had predicted a “mask free summer” for the general public thanks to the progress of the vaccination programme.

Jo Bisset, organiser for UsForThem Scotland, said: “Children in England now have an end in sight to permanent mask-wearing in school – Scottish kids deserve the same.

“The Scottish Government should set the same deadline, at least, and allow these children to have a normal school experience in what’s left of the academic year.

"Cases are dropping massively and the vaccination programme has meant other parts of society are getting back to normal. But children are still having to wear masks for the whole day, more than almost every other profession, including the politicians imposing this.

She added: “It’s blatantly wrong that children should have to see images of groups downing pints in pub beer gardens while they have to stew in a face-covering for eight hours.”

Last week, Westminster education secretary Gavin Williams said that school pupils should not have to wear masks in the classroom beyond May 17, although they will still expected to wear them in corridors and on school buses.

A final date for lifting this restriction will be confirmed in coming weeks. It is expected that measures such as on-site testing in schools, increased ventilation and stringent hygiene rules will all remain in place.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Current guidance states face coverings should be worn by pupils at all times, unless exemptions apply. The Scottish Government regularly reviews the policy position on face coverings in light of emerging scientific evidence and advice.

“The Education Recovery Group monitors the incidence and prevalence of Covid-19 in school communities and guidance is kept under review.”

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