Covid Scotland: Masks in schools to be dropped 'as soon as possible'

The mandatory requirement for pupils to wear masks in schools will be dropped “as soon as possible”, the education secretary has said.

Scottish children will continue to have to wear masks in schools as part of the remaining Covid-19 mitigations as they return this week.

Guidance from the Scottish Government stated the requirement for masks would remain for at least six weeks, but education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said the measure may be relaxed sooner.

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The requirement for pupils to wear masks will be lifted "as soon as possible".

Speaking on Good Morning Scotland, the Cabinet secretary said: "We are making sure we are continuing to keep a safe environment for children and young people and staff.

"Wearing face masks within areas for example, retail etc, is still in place in the wider community for secondary school age people. Because secondary school age children would have been wearing a mask for example going to the shops to do back to school shopping, it won't be unusual for them to continue to wear the masks as they go to school.

“Of course we would like to take these restrictions off as soon as possible. We think they might be in place for up to six weeks, that's to ensure that all the staff within our schools have the opportunity to be fully doubly vaccinated.

"But if we can take those restrictions, particularly the face masks, off earlier then of course we would do that."

The Scottish Government has also changed guidance on self-isolation for school ‘bubbles’, with whole classes being forced to isolate after a positive case no longer policy.

Ms Somerville said: "That's very important because that really does reduce the level of disruption that children and young people have had.

"Last year we had many people having to self isolate that didn't go on to actually get Covid. We had many people having education disrupted, but not actually getting the disease at the end of it.

"With the changes we have made, we will see less disruption."

On exams, Ms Somerville repeated that she would make an announcement for the 2022 exam diet “soon”.

She said: "I appreciate that both children and young people and staff will want to make early planning for that"

"We want to reassure the young people going into assessments this year that they will know what they are facing very, very soon."

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