Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders have narrowly missed out on regulations which would have meant S4-6 pupils having to wear face masks in classrooms, Colin Smyth has revealed.
On 23 October, the Scottish Government published their new COVID-19 Strategic Framework, which stated that in areas covered by level 2 restrictions and above, schools would be subjected to ‘enhanced protective measures’ of safety.
However, when the framework was amended on 30 October this had been changed in level 2 to ‘standard protective measures’, revealing yet another Scottish Government u-turn.
The Scottish Government failed to tell Parliament what the new protective measures were, only revealing details on Friday 30 October at the Scottish Government’s press conference.
As well as the new enhanced protective measures, new guidance has been issued to all schools about the wearing of face coverings when picking up and dropping off primary school children.
South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth said: “S4 to 6 pupils in Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders narrowly missed out on new rules that would have required them to wear face masks in class like their peers living in areas covered by level 3 restrictions.
“When the Scottish Government published their Covid-19 Strategic Framework, secondary schools were set to see ‘enhanced protective measures’ imposed on classrooms in areas covered by level 2 restrictions.
“However, a few days later the updated framework had been changed so schools in level 2 areas would continue with ‘standard protective measures’, meaning only wearing face coverings in communal areas.
“I know many parents in the areas where face coverings in class have been introduced are concerned over the new rules, in particular the difficulties this may cause for students with learning or hearing difficulties. It also sends a signal that despite the Government originally saying they had no concerns over Covid levels in schools, they must now be concerned. It really does highlight the need for a rethink in our school and the introduction of weekly Covid tests for staff and senior students.
“It is also disappointing that Scottish Government did not reveal what they meant by enhanced measures until after the Parliamentary debate on the new framework, so there was no opportunity for MSPs to ask questions on the issue. There is no rule book on how to deal with a global pandemic, but it is clear we need more parliamentary scrutiny, not less.