Publication - FOI/EIR release

Face coverings for children aged 5 and over: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Published:
14 Oct 2020
Face coverings for children aged 5 and over: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/202000082610
Date received: 30 Aug 2020
Date responded: 28 Sep 2020
Information requested
  • Information relating to the wearing of face coverings for children age 5 and over in Scotland.
  • Information relating to monitoring the wearing of face coverings within education, in particular:
  • Who will be monitoring this?
  • Who is collecting this data?
  • How will the data be collected?
  • How will it be presented?
  • When will it be presented?
Response

Where possible, I enclose information you have requested in Annex A and B of this letter. While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have all of the information you have requested regarding the monitoring of wearing face coverings.
Please note we are currently developing plans for monitoring the impacts of the policy. This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.

Annex A: Information relating to the wearing of face coverings for children age 5 and over.
The Scottish Government has always and continues to make decisions based on the available scientific and medical evidence. Regarding face coverings, decisions were based on evidence and advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).

The Scottish Government Covid-19 Advisory Group, commonly known as the CMO’s Advisory Group, applies the advice from the SAGE and other appropriate sources of evidence and information and use it to inform local decisions in Scotland.

I have noted below links to the appropriate information:

  • On 4 June 2020, SAGE discussed mitigation measures which included the use of face covering.  You can find further information in the meeting minutes which are available on the UK Government website here.
  • The World Health Organisation released update advice on face covering on the 5 June 2020.  The guidance advised that to prevent Covid-19 transmission effectively in areas of community transmission, governments should encourage the general public to wear face coverings in specific situations and settings as part of comprehensive approach to suppress Covid-19 transmission. You can find a copy of this guidance on the WHO website here.
  • The UK Government released a summary of the relevant SAGE reports for this topic. This can be found on the UK Parliament website here.
  • The Scottish Government's guidance on face coverings, including exemptions, can be found here.

In addition on the 21 August 2020, the WHO published evidence on the use of face coverings for children within the community and this was used to support the Scottish Government decision on wearing face coverings in school. This evidence can be found on the WHO website here.

Annex B: Information relating to the monitoring of wearing face coverings in schools.
Our guidance on face coverings was updated at pace following the publication of the WHO advice, and we are currently developing plans for monitoring the impacts of the policy.
These will form part of wider arrangements for ensuring an understanding of the impact of risk mitigation measures in schools and on children and young people, which will be proportionate and adaptable given the fast changing nature of the situation with the virus. 

We expect these arrangements will include the following key sources of information and evidence:

  • Public Health Scotland currently collect and publish testing and case data for children and young people. Their weekly statistical report, which includes a link to an interactive dashboard, is available here.
  • The Scottish Government collects and publishes attendance and absence data, available here.
  • An infographic providing a weekly snapshot of current COVID-related data in relation to children and young people, such as the number of tests and positive cases reported, and the attendance and absence of both children and staff in childcare and school settings, is available here. This information is reviewed on a weekly basis by the COVID-19 Education Recovery Group,
  • We are also working with a range of partners to explore the potential to include relevant questions in ongoing surveys and qualitative research activity aimed at establishing the views of children, young people and parents. Current survey evidence is limited, although you may be interested to note the findings of a recent member survey conducted by Disability Equality Scotland, available here.
  • The COVID-19 Education Recovery Group considers stakeholder feedback, including from public health and educational experts, on the impact and effectiveness of risk mitigation measures in schools on a weekly basis. This supports our qualitative understanding of the experiences of children and young people and parents.

As this evidence is collated and assessed over time, our expectation is that it will provide a useful basis on which to adjust or amend policy and guidance as appropriate.

As noted above, many of these sources are already published either by Scottish Government, Public Health Scotland or partner organisations. As we develop our understanding of the impact and effectiveness of the mitigations in place for children and young people, we will consider how best to make that evidence available more widely.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses.

Contact

Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG