Face masks to be scrapped in Scotland’s schools, Nicola Sturgeon confirms

10 February 2022, 14:32

Nicola Sturgeon
Face masks are to be scrapped in Scotland’s classrooms, Nicola Sturgeon said. Picture: Alamy

By Liam Gould

Teachers and students in Scotland's secondary schools will no longer be required to wear face coverings in the classroom, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced.

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The change to Covid restrictions in Scotland will be introduced from 28 February. This will coincide with children returning to school from the half-term break.

The change will be a “further step in allowing children and young people a return to a more normal experience in school after many, many months of sacrifice”, Ms. Sturgeon said during the start of First Minister’s Questions.

It will “reduce barriers to communication in the classroom and reduce any wellbeing impacts which arise from the use of face coverings”.

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But, face masks will still be required in some communal areas in schools - a decision which is under ‘regular review’.

Ms. Sturgeon said the loosening of restrictions is made possible by “encouraging” data on coronavirus infection rates.

A number of meetings were held with scientific and education advisors this week, who advised Ms. Sturgeon on the decision.

“Reducing case rates” in secondary school students, and a decrease in hospital admissions were highlighted as key.

She said the announcement would “give children and young people, their families and school staff certainty about the forthcoming changes before the February break”.

Pupils in primary schools have never had to wear masks in Scotland.

The announcement comes a day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the House of Commons that the last of the UK’s coronavirus restrictions will be lifted next month.

Leader of the Scottish Conservatives Douglas Ross questioned whether the change took too long. “Young people’s education has been unnecessarily disrupted for far too long.”

He added: “While it is welcome, it has taken much longer than was necessary.”

Ms. Sturgeon insisted: “Had we done it before today, we would have been acting against expert and scientific advice – it would have been the wrong thing to do.”

“We are doing it now at the right time and in line with advice and I think that marks the responsibility of this Government in contrast with the irresponsibility of the main opposition.”