Education Secretary John Swinney has announced that secondary school pupils in Scotland will have to wear face coverings in corridors, communal areas and school buses from next Monday (31 August) and all children aged five and over on dedicated school transport by a, bringing it into line with guidance for public transport.
Speaking on BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme Mr Swinney said the guidance would be updated based on new advice from the World Health Organization (WHO) and would apply to all pupils aged over 12.
There will no requirement to wear face coverings in classrooms where social distancing measures are in place. However it remains the case that where adults cannot keep 2m distance and are interacting face-to-face for a sustained period (about 15 minutes or more), face coverings should be worn.
Mr Swinney said individual exemptions could be granted for health reasons, but the guidance would be “obligatory” for all secondary, special and grant-aided schools.
He explained: “From August 31st young people over the age of 12 in secondary schools should habitually be wearing face coverings when they are moving around schools and corridors and in communal areas where it is difficult to deliver the physical distancing.”
He said the Scottish government had acted in the light of the new WHO advice based on evidence that teenagers can infect others in the same way as adults, but had decided to go further by extending it to school transport.
“It’s part of the general measures we are taking to ensure we keep pace with the emerging advice about how to keep our schools open and to keep our schools safe.”
Young people returned to Scotland’s schools earlier in August with no requirements for physical distancing between younger pupils, and no rules around face coverings.
Detailed guidance will be published on the Scottish Government website later this afternoon.