Publication - FOI/EIR release

COVID-19 Face coverings for children aged 5-11yrs: FOI release

Published: 11 Jan 2021

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

Published:
11 Jan 2021
COVID-19 Face coverings for children aged 5-11yrs: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/202000108566
Date received: 6 Nov 2020
Date responded: 18 Dec 2020
Information requested

1 (a) On what basis did the Scottish Government decide that face coverings for children aged 5 - 11 were  a proportionate and safe measure?  
(b) If your response to 1(a) is based on or refers to scientific advice, guidance or evidence of any kind, please be sure to specify what that advice, guidance or evidence is and where it came from.  

2 - Has the need for the above mentioned policy requiring the use of face masks for children aged 5 - 11 in Scotland been reviewed since it was implemented, particularly taking into account the evidence in relation to transmission of COVID 19 by this age group?    
(b) If there has been no review into the policy referred to in 2(a), why not?  
(c) If there has been a review following the introduction of the policy referred to in 1(a) and 2 (a) above, then please provide it.

3 - In relation to the following from the WHO,

'The benefits of wearing masks in children for COVID-19 control should be weighed against potential harm associated with wearing masks, including feasibility and discomfort, as well as social and communication concerns....

For children between six and 11 years of age, a risk-based approach should be applied to the decision to use of a mask. This approach should take into consideration: • intensity of transmission in the area where the child is and updated data/available evidence on the risk of infection and transmission in this age group; • social and cultural environment such as beliefs, customs, behaviour or social norms that influence the community and population’s social interactions, especially with and among children; • the child’s capacity to comply with the appropriate use of masks and availability of appropriate adult supervision; • potential impact of mask wearing on learning and psychosocial development; and • additional specific considerations and adaptions for specific settings such as households with elderly relatives, schools, during sport activities or for children with disabilities or with underlying diseases.'

please confirm

(a) if the Scottish Government at any time undertook a risk/benefit analysis in relation to requiring face coverings for children aged 5 - 11, prior to and/or since the introduction of this requirement,
(b) if the abovementioned (at 3a) risk/benefit analysis was conducted, please provide it, or outline why it cannot be provided, 
(c) if the abovementioned (at 3a) risk/benefit analysis was conducted, please outline whether it has been reviewed at any time since introduction, 
(d) if no risk/benefit analysis (as outlined in 3a) has been conducted, then why not?
(e) if no review of any risk/benefit analysis (as outlined in 3a) has been conducted, then why not?

4 - In relation to the following from the WHO:

Monitoring and evaluation of the impact of the use of masks in children If authorities decide to recommend mask-wearing for children, key information should be collected on a regular basis to accompany and monitor the intervention. Monitoring and evaluation should be established at the onset and should include indicators that measure the impact on the child’s health, including mental health; reduction in transmission of SARS-CoV-2; motivators and barriers to mask wearing; and secondary impacts on a child’s development learning, attendance in school, ability to express him/herself or access school; and impact on children with developmental delays, health conditions, disabilities or other vulnerabilities. Data should be used to inform strategies on communication; training and support to teachers, educators, and parents; engagement activities for children; and distribution of materials that empower children to use masks appropriately. Analysis should include sex, age, physical, social and economic stratification to ensure that the policy implementation contributes to reducing health and social inequities.

(a) Please confirm whether monitoring and evaluation of any kind was put in place by the Scottish Government 'at the onset' in relation to the impact of the use of masks in children aged 5 -11?  If it wasn't put in place 'at the onset', then why not?  

(b) Please provide evidence that monitoring and evaluation of the use of masks in children of all ages in Scotland has taken place and is ongoing, as well as the results of that monitoring and evaluation.  Where you only have information covering certain age groups, please provide this, alongside an explanation wherever possible of the age groups that are covered.  

(c) Please provide information regarding the 'key infromation' which the Scottish Government has collected in line with the above from WHO and outline how frequently this is being collected?  If no 'key information' has been collected, please outline why.

(d) Please provide evidence of the ways in which the abovementioned monitoring and evaluation (as outlined in 4a) has informed strategies as per the information from the WHO, also quoted above.  

(e) If no monitoring and/or evaluation in relation to the impact of the use of masks in children aged 5 - 11 in Scotland has taken place, please explain why?  

5 - (a) Please provide the risk assessment which was undertaken prior to the decision to mandate face coverings for children as young as five years old on unsupervised (other than by someone whose attention is on driving and who is therefore unable to observe the child/ren) school transport in Scotland.  

(b) If no risk assessment was undertaken in relation to the Scottish Government's requirement for Scotland's children as outlined in 5(a), please provide an explanation as to why.  

(c) Please advise whether the risks posed to children by mask wearing on school transport, particularly very young children, some of whom are not supervised by any other adult other than one whose attention is on driving, were specifically considered (eg vomiting/nose bleeds etc), and if there was no specific consideration of these and other applicable factors relating to these circumstances, why not?

Response

I enclose a copy of the information you requested in the attached document titled Annex A.

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