Parents and carers are split on whether children should have to wear masks in school as pupils across Scotland return to class.
Many disagree with the requirement for secondary students to use face coverings in classrooms, while others say it helps reduce anxiety around transmitting coronavirus.
Children under 12 years old do not need to wear masks, but older kids and adults must have them on when sitting at their desks, moving around the school in corridors, office and admin areas, indoor communal areas, school transport and canteens except when dining.
Ida Maspero, whose son is starting secondary school in Edinburgh, said she is “beyond furious” that her son is expected to sit in a face mask all day “while the rest of society has pretty much gone back to normal”.
She told STV News: “Keeping restrictions in schools is completely disproportionate and unjust, and damaging to children’s positive engagement in learning. Being treated like germ-ridden vectors of disease will only serve to fuel their anxiety.
“How can it be right that people are dancing in nightclubs with no masks and no physical distancing when kids are subjected to wearing masks [and] not having assemblies?”
However, for some pupils mask-wearing rules ease the worries they have about the spread of Covid-19.
Faith Parker’s daughter has just started her fifth year at a Glasgow High School. She said having to wear a face covering makes her feel safer.
“She is scared not to. A few of her friends have had Covid and she just prefers to wear them. A lot don’t and it makes her angry as they’re not taking it seriously,” she said.
“If it gives my [daughter] the reassurance she needs, it’s fine by me.”
The Scottish Government said the evidence supporting a key benefit of face coverings – that they protect others from being infected by the wearer – has grown.
However, advice for education practitioners noted that communication for very young learners and those with additional support needs relies in part on being able to see someone’s face clearly.
It also stated this was important for children and young people who are acquiring English and who rely on visual cues to enable them to be included in learning.
While the majority of coronavirus restrictions were eased across Scotland, schools remain very different to how they were pre-pandemic.
The requirement to wear masks is expected to be in place for the first six weeks of term until the end of September when it is due to be reviewed.
Ruth Kelly, has grandchildren in primary and secondary schools in Campbeltown. She told STV News she thinks it is right for senior pupils to wear the masks when moving around the school but that they should be able to take them off in class.
“There’s no easy answer, but for me, they should be able to take them off,” she said, “They can take them off in the dining room when they are eating.
“The children have coped very well, it’s the adults that have not coped very well.”