FACE COVERINGS – The Official Position

The SSTA has focussed throughout the covid-19 pandemic that safety of staff and pupils must be the first consideration. The SSTA continues to insist that all safety measures (such as face coverings, hand sanitisers/cleaning materials in all classrooms and strict physical distancing) should be in place in all schools.

There has been reluctance in some quarters to take all necessary steps to protect all staff and pupils during the course of the pandemic. As a consequence, there is much confusion as to what safety measures teachers should take whilst at work particularly in the case of face coverings. A large number of extensive documents have been issued recently and the essential documents have been added below.

The guidance on face coverings is:

Levels 0-2

  • Face coverings should be worn by adults where they cannot keep two metres from other adults and/or young people.
  • The “sustained period” 15-minute caveat no longer applies.

Levels 3-4

  • Face coverings should also be worn at all times by adults and young people in classrooms in senior phase.

At all Levels

  • face coverings should be used by adults when not working directly with young people
  • Face coverings should be worn by parents and other visitors to the school site
  • Classroom assistants and those supporting children with Additional Support Needs who work within two metres of young people should wear face coverings.

“…previous advice on face coverings in schools …should be strengthened and augmented to manage the main area of risk within schools, which is adult to adult transmission.  The advice has, therefore, been brought in line with current advice in the community, and the need for compliance should be strongly reinforced.” – COVID-19 Advisory Sub-group on Education and Children’s Issues (30 October 2020) SSTA Face Covering Poster

Pupils Refusing to Wear Face Coverings
The SSTA still has a major concern that schools have been placed in an impossible position when pupils refuse to wear face coverings. A large number of members have reported the difficulties the non-compliance of pupils is causing in schools. The SSTA has written to the Deputy First Minister seeking that schools must be fully supported in taking action to ensure full compliance of safety measures in schools. 

Use of Face Coverings
Members are reminded about the safety guidance on the use of face coverings. It is vital that clear instructions on how to put on, remove, store and dispose of face coverings to avoid inadvertently increasing the risks of transmission. The key points are as follows:

  • Face coverings should not be shared with others.
  • Before putting on or removing the face covering, hands should be cleaned by washing with soap and water or hand sanitiser.
  • Make sure the face covering is the right size to cover the nose, mouth and chin. Children should be taught how to wear the face covering properly, including not touching the front and not pulling it under the chin or into their mouth.
  • When temporarily storing a face covering (e.g. during classes), it should be placed in a washable, sealed bag or container. Avoid placing it on surfaces, due to the possibility of contamination.
  • Re-usable face coverings should be washed after each day of use in school at 60 degrees centigrade or in boiling water.

Disposable face coverings must be disposed of safely and hygienically. Children and young people should be encouraged not to litter and to place their face coverings in the general waste bin. They are not considered to be clinical waste in the same way that used PPE may be.

 – Coronavirus (COVID-19): Guidance on reducing the risks from COVID-19 in schools Non-statutory guidance to ensure a safe and supportive environment for learning and teachingVersion 4.3 Published 30 October 2020
– Coronavirus (COVID-19): public use of face coverings  
– Safe Learning in Scotland: Building on our Success (Education Scotland)

– Advice from The Covid-19 Advisory Sub-Group On Education And Children’s Issues

SSTA Face Covering
The SSTA is providing all members with a face covering that will be sent out shortly. To get yours please ensure your personal details are correct.

Published on 16 November 2020 - Information for Members