School social-distancing and face-mask advice published

Group advising Scottish Government says no social distancing is required between pupils.

School social-distancing and face-mask advice published Getty Images

Teachers won’t need to wear face masks in schools except during periods of sustained close contact with pupils.

With schools planning for the full-time return of children next month, the Covid-19 advisory sub-group on education said two-metre social distancing should remain in place wherever possible.

But face coverings are not required for most children and adults should only wear them if they cannot keep a two-metre distance and are interacting with someone for 15 minutes or more.

The advice also indicates that no physical distancing is required between children and young people in primary and secondary schools.

Teachers and staff should stay two metres apart from other adults and from children who are not in their household.

The paper, published on Thursday, also says advice on social distancing and face coverings could be made stricter should coronavirus cases rise in Scotland in the coming weeks.

For pupils travelling on school transport, they will not have to socially distance from other pupils or wear a face covering, just the same as elsewhere on the school estate.

However, children and young people getting to school on public transport will have to follow existing Covid rules.

They include two-metre distancing where possible and the mandatory wearing of face coverings for everyone aged five or over, with a few exceptions.

Education secretary John Swinney said the Scottish Government will look at the sub-group’s advice to help it produce “comprehensive guidance” for parents and schools ahead of the planned August 11 restart.

Swinney said: “This scientific advice will inform the way schools can re-open safely from August 11, if infection rates continue to remain low.

“The education recovery group which comprises local authorities, parent representatives and teachers’ organisations and trades unions, has been developing plans for how to open schools safely for everyone.

“We are considering this advice as we develop comprehensive guidance which will give confidence to our school communities that the safety and wellbeing of children, young people and staff is ensured as we welcome them back.

“Ensuring the highest quality education for our young people, in a safe environment, must be a priority for us all and I know that everyone is committed to make sure that children’s education is not adversely affected in the longer term.”

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