Scotland to require secondary school pupils wear face masks

25 August 2020, 09:47

Scotland's education secretary said the Scottish government would also be recommending masks on school buses
Scotland's education secretary said the Scottish government would also be recommending masks on school buses. Picture: PA
Rachael Kennedy

By Rachael Kennedy

Secondary school pupils in Scotland will be required to wear face masks when moving around schools from next week, the Scottish education secretary has confirmed.

John Swinney said schools would receive "obligatory guidance" on the matter, which involves pupils wearing masks from 31 August in areas where social distancing is not possible.

He told BBC's Good Morning Scotland that the Scottish government would also be recommending face coverings on school buses.

This is a step further than the World Health Organisation's current guidance.

READ MORE: Masks for pupils in school should be kept under review, education union urges

Mr Swinney's comments on Tuesday come in direct opposition to the stance currently held in England, with Education Secretary Gavin Williamson arguing the measure is unnecessary for children to take.

In response to a question about masks, Mr William insisted that a "system of controls" already in place for safety in schools meant the extra measure would not be needed.

England's deputy chief medical officer Jenny Harries also said the evidence was not "not strong" on whether children aged 12 and above should wear masks.

READ MORE: Why getting England back to school is so important for the PM

Despite this, the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) has suggested the issue of wearing face masks in schools should be kept under review.

Referencing Scotland's imminent decision on the matter, the association's general secretary Geoff Barton told the Daily Telegraph: "We would expect the Government in Westminster to review its guidance on the use of face coverings in schools - which currently says they are not required - in light of the WHO guidance and the consultation taking place in Scotland.

"The evidence is clearly evolving on this issue and it is important that it is kept under review and that clear direction is provided to schools."