Throughout the pandemic Scottish Labour have maintained that decisions on mitigations should be informed by the most up to date public health data and evidence, and should be updated as and when the circumstances change.
Face coverings have been recommended by SAGE and other independent experts as one method of reducing transmission, especially asymptomatic transmission, of Covid-19 in indoor spaces.
It is the responsibility of the government to outline how keeping face masks in schools is consistent and justified in comparison with other guidance.
The situation we face is very different to early on in the pandemic and, with high vaccination rates and falling case numbers nationally, we hope this will mean the lifting of all restrictions soon, including the need for masks in schools.
We must balance safety, while ensuring mitigations are not excessive. Keeping schools open is so important after much missed education time. With case numbers still high in schools it is vital we keep our young people, teachers and education staff safe, particularly as we enter exam season.
Scottish Labour started and has led the call for proper ventilation in classrooms. Had the Scottish Government supported our calls and invested in air filters for schools, classrooms would be kept safer and it would be less likely that masks would still be required.
Going forward we need a new approach to handling the pandemic – one that is based on more than ad hoc decision making from government and provides certainty to the public, including pupils and teachers, about what measures may be required and when.
That is why Scottish Labour have set out our strategy for living well with Covid-19, with specific asks around pandemic-proofing our schools. You can read more about these asks and the wider strategy here.