Secondary school pupils will still be required to wear masks when schools return even if Covid vaccinations are extended to 16 and 17-year-olds, Deputy First Minister John Swinney has said.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is expected to make a recommendation on extending the vaccination programme “imminently”, officials have said.
It is believed vaccinating 16 and 17-year-olds against the virus could reduce transmission and help limit disruption to schooling.
With classes due to start back in Scotland later this month, Mr Swinney – who is also Scotland’s Covid Recovery Secretary – pledged “early progress” would be made on vaccinating this age group, if it is recommended.
Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme on Wednesday, he said: “I do hope that that is the position we hear from the JCVI today, we have been pressing for that, and have made a strong case.
“Obviously we’ll take that very forward really very swiftly to make sure we can make early progress on that.
“And working on a four nations basis about vaccine supplies we will obviously make the quickest progress we possibly can do.”
His comments came as Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said he is “still particularly worried that young people will be wearing masks when they return to school later on this month”.
Mr Swinney said even if the vaccination programme is extended, secondary school pupils will still be expected to wear face coverings – although this is due to be reviewed after six weeks.
The Deputy First Minister said: “We’ve set that for a six-week period and we will make early progress on the vaccination on 16 and 17-year-olds if that is the decision announced by the JCVI, but the arrangements for face coverings in schools will be maintained, as announced by the First Minister.”