Jackie Baillie, face masks and John Swinney.

By Democrat reporter

The vexed question of why and why not face coverings in schools was raised in the Scottish Parliament by local MSP for Dumbarton, Vale of Leven and Helensburgh, Jackie Baillie.

This followed worries expressed with the MSP by parents about children not being required to wear face coverings in school.

The MSP spoke with Cabinet Secretary for Education, John Swinney and pointed out that children are being required to wear face coverings on public transport, in shops, churches, museums and libraries, but not in schools.

Mr Swinney was asked in light of this, whether he would review the guidance, particularly for older children, and consider a requirement to wear face masks in schools.

The Cabinet Secretary said he was open minded in regard to this, but added that change would have to be balanced with the medical advice and the impact it would have on their educational experience.

The Cabinet Secretary, in a statement to parliament on schools going back, said that as of the 3 August, less than 1% of cases of Covid-19 in Scotland had involved children aged under 15.

And around only 2% involved children and young people aged under 20. In addition to this there have been no cases linked to any community school hubs which have been open throughout the epidemic.

He said there are studies which suggest that given the low risk of transmission by children, the detrimental developmental impact of extended face covering use may be greater than the potential protective benefit.

Mr Swinney also advised that the issue would be looked at again by the Education Recovery group which the Scottish Government has set up.

Jackie Baillie MSP said:  “I understand the concerns and worry many parents have about their children returning to school.

“It is understandable that many are confused about the reasons why children are being required to wear face coverings outside of school but not in them.

“The Cabinet Secretary has said that the decision to wear face coverings has to be made based on the latest medical advice.

“But it’s also essential that parents are provided with the reassurance they need that it is safe for their children to be in school.

“I welcome the Cabinet Secretary’s commitment to remaining open minded about face coverings in school and look forward to it being discussed by the Education Recovery Group when it next meets.

“It’s vital that clear guidance is issued and that the concerns of parents are addressed.”

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