The requirement for pupils to wear face coverings in classrooms looks set to be scrapped after the October holidays, but how do you feel about it?
Since the start of the school year, secondary school pupils have been required to wear face coverings at all times whilst indoors – including in classrooms.
However this looks set to change and new guidance – expected to be published this week – is likely to outline that pupils will no longer be required to wear face coverings in class when they return after the break.
Face coverings would still be required in communal areas such as corridors and canteens.
Do you think the requirement for face coverings to be worn in classrooms should remain in place?
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Mixed reaction from teaching unions
The news that the guidance on pupils wearing face coverings whilst at school is set to change has been met with mixed reaction.
Scotland’s largest teaching union, the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) has said that such a “significant” change should not be announced during the holidays.
The union also warned that there must be a “significant increase” in vaccination uptake amongst secondary students before the requirement for masks to be worn in class is removed.
— EIS (@EISUnion) October 12, 2021
The Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association (SSTA) also believes the Covid-19 safety precautions should stay in place into the winter.
SSTA general secretary Seamus Searson said: “All existing mitigations must be kept in place. Teachers do not have the option to remove themselves from a classroom if they feel unsafe.
“We need a national message without any relaxations in any area as it will only cause confusion. The last thing schools need is confusion.”
However, the group School Leaders Scotland (SLS), formerly known as the Headteachers’ Association of Scotland, welcomed the move.
General secretary Jim Thewliss said: “We would welcome the removal of masks in class to improve engagement. We have now reached a position with the medical evidence that means it is safe to move in the direction.
“So we would be quite happy for young people not to be wearing masks if they felt comfortable with that.
“All the way through we have followed the advice coming through from the medical experts and we are comfortable with the removing of the requirement for face coverings – particularly because, if the situation changes, and things start to move in the wrong direction, it is an easy mitigation to put back in.”
Is anything else changing?
As well as the removal of the requirement for face coverings, the new guidance is also expected to allow in-person parent evenings to resume.
Assemblies, which schools have been advised to avoid since the pupils returned from the summer break, will also be permitted to go ahead.
One-way systems and staggered lunchtimes and starts are also expected to be scrapped.