A “clear message” should be sent to pupils who deliberately flout rules on face coverings in schools, teaching unions say.
From today, secondary school pupils are advised to wear a face covering in communal areas and corridors and although schools will be obliged to provide guidance, the advice is not mandatory.
Education Secretary John Swinney also rejected suggestions that pupils should be should be sent home if they fail to wear a face covering.
However David Farmer, the spokesman for the Fife branch of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), has argued that those who flout the rules need to be dealt with firmly.
He said: “There has been a long discussion on what will happen to kids in schools who don’t follow this practice.
“We don’t have a definite answer on this which is perhaps not surprising given that authorities will deal with each case on its own merits.
“Where there is a deliberate flouting of the rules, we hope that it will be dealt with firmly by schools. We are talking about safety here so it cannot be tolerated if people act in an unsafe way.
“A clear message should be sent out to kids and firm actions should be taken”
“It went really well and had about 100 per cent adherence. There were no pupils who were being awkward about it. ”
Kirkcaldy High School rector, David Allan
Guidance posted on Fife Council’s website outlines that if “there is no obvious reason why a child should not wear a face covering, and the school have not been contacted by a parent requesting they be exempt, this matter would be dealt with by the school in line with the behaviour management policy.”
Despite the calls for firm action against those who continually break the rules, the union spokesman is confident that most pupils will adhere to the guidance.
He added: “Over the next week to ten days we will be trying to gather information from our members on how they feel it has gone.
“But I would think that the vast majority of pupils in Fife schools will observe the rules.”
Successful first day
There was no cause for concern at Kirkcaldy High School and rector Derek Allan was delighted with how pupils took to the new rules on the first day.
He said: “It went really well and had about 100 per cent adherence. There were no pupils who were being awkward about it.
“We gave out about 70 or 80 face coverings first thing, which out of 1,400 pupils is not bad. We are trying to encourage the reusable ones rather than the plastic ones.
“The pupils occasionally needed a gentle reminder but it was almost always because they forgot.”
Not all pupils are required to wear face coverings, including those who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability.
To ensure that those pupils feel comfortable, Kirkcaldy High has introduced a system which allows them be recognised by staff and their peers.
Mr Allan added: “The kids get a wee red badge if they are not required to wear a face covering, but that is a very small number.
“We thought it might be a challenge with the kids who have a high level of additional support needs but today went well overall.”