JOHN Swinney has rejected suggestions that pupils who refuse to wear face masks should be sent home from school.

From today, it is mandatory for pupils and staff to wear masks because of the "difficulty" of physical distancing in "crowded corridor environments".

But the Education Secretary said schools need to build “awareness” regarding masks instead of excluding pupils who don’t comply.

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"We've got to make sure that the wearing of face coverings in schools becomes essentially a habitual part of school life," he said.

"In our guidance, we make it clear that young people should be encouraged and motivated and required to do that, but it should not result in exclusion from school if they don't do that."

The Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association (SSTA) had suggested that pupils who refuse to mask up should be sent home.

Swinney said: "I don't agree with the SSTA that young people should be excluded from school if they're not wearing face coverings, but I do think schools need to build up the cultural understanding and awareness of the importance of wearing face coverings as something that is done to protect all of the school population - staff and pupils alike."