SCOTLAND’S First Minister has announced masks will no longer be required in classrooms from later this month. 

Nicola Sturgeon, speaking in a statement at the start of FMQs, said the Advisory Sub-Group on Education has recommended phasing out masks in classrooms after the February half-term break.

The change is to apply to both pupils and staff from February 28, she told the Chamber.

READ MORE: Fall in Covid rates masks 'rapid' rise amongst children

The SNP leader said: "This change will reduce barriers to communication in the classroom, and reduce any wellbeing impacts which arise from the use of face coverings – for example their use in support learning and teaching.

"Of course, any young person or staff member who wishes to still wear a face covering in the classroom should be fully supported to do so.

The National:

"We expect that face coverings will still be required in indoor communal areas of schools for a period after 28 February."

She added: "In arriving at its recommendation, the Advisory Sub-Group pointed to reducing case rates for secondary aged pupils, falling hospitalisation rates across all age categories, and that the estimated R rate is below 1 – as well as increasing vaccination of young people.

"These changes represent a further step in allowing children and young people to return to more normality in school, after many, many months of sacrifices. I hope it will be welcomed across the country."

The National:

It comes after Boris Johnson announced the remaining domestic coronavirus restrictions in England – including the legal requirement to self-isolate – could be lifted within weeks.

The current regulations expire on March 24, but the Prime Minister has said he will end them a month early as long as “encouraging trends” in the data continue.

The Scottish Government is unlikely to go as far as dropping all rules when it publishes its strategy for living with Covid in the months ahead on February 22.

The plans will be debated by MSPs, meaning any changes could be several weeks behind England.

READ MORE: Boris Johnson ending self-isolation in England a 'dead cat' plot

The Scottish Government is also moving to extend its Covid powers until September 24.

The powers, which include the use of face coverings and the vaccine certification scheme, were due to expire in March.

Earlier on Thursday, Scottish Health Secretary Humza Yousaf did not rule out easing measures sooner than planned but said Holyrood would do so in a “thoughtful” way driven by science, as he criticised Johnson’s move as “off the cuff”.