THE Scottish Conservatives are demanding an end to the requirement for pupils and teachers to wear face masks in schools when the new academic year starts next month.

All secondary school pupils have been required to wear masks at all times since March, while teachers have to do so if less than two metres from pupils. The rule has been abolished in England.  

Minutes of a meeting of the Scottish Government Advisory Sub-Group on Education from late June indicate that the group discussed that face mask use in classrooms should be ended once teachers are double jagged.

The review of face mask wearing may be resisted by parents concerned that children over 12 are not being offered the Covid vaccine in the UK despite jags being rolled out to adolescents in other countries, including Ireland, France and the US.

Scottish Conservative shadow cabinet secretary for education, Oliver Mundell MSP, said: “Young people have already faced a year of upheaval and disrupted education. They deserve a return to normality as soon as possible.

“The success of Scotland and the UK’s vaccine scheme means that face masks in schools are no longer a necessity, as the government’s advisers have suggested.

“Scotland’s schools must be at the front of the queue for the relaxation of restrictions. Protecting young people’s education should be a top priority for the SNP Government.

“We firmly believe the public health data now supports a return to normality in schools by removing the requirement for face masks and ending the need for children to self-isolate for 10 days.

“Parents, pupils and teachers are waiting for answers on what rules will be in place. We should put restoring Scotland’s schools first and give children back a normal learning experience again.”

Nicola Sturgeon said yesterday she is to ask the UK’s vaccine committee whether it has weighed up the danger posed by new Covid-19 mutations against the risk of giving the vaccine to children.

Her move comes after a Scottish health expert said she was “baffled” by the decision of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to withhold vaccines from 12 to 17-year-olds.

Devi Sridhar, chair of global public health at Edinburgh University and a member of the First Minister’s Covid-19 advisory group, warned of a "surge of infections ... when the school year starts again”.

She said such a surge may bring with it the risk of dangerous mutations that could evade vaccine protection in teachers and parents.

The JCVI withheld vaccines from children after rare cases of heart inflammation emerged in America, although the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called the link between vaccination and inflammation inconclusive. Adolescents continue to receive jabs in the US.

Dr Gregor Smith, Scotland’s chief medical officer, is to write to the JCVI this week to urge the committee to review its guidance for adolescents.