The impact on schoolchildren of wearing face masks in class is to be scrutinised by the Scottish Government.
A survey of secondary school pupils will garner their feelings about the requirement for face coverings and how they affect their wellbeing.
Pupils in S4 to S6 and their teachers in tier three areas – including Dundee, Fife, Angus and Perth and Kinross – must now wear masks in classrooms as well as in communal areas of school buildings.
Some schools have extended the guidance to pupils in all year groups.
Parents group UsForThem Scotland, which campaigned for the full reopening of schools in August, welcomed assurance from the government that research would be conducted.
It said many some pupils had stopped going to school since they were required to wear face coverings almost all day.
The group urged the Scottish Government in August to carry out proper analysis of the impact on pupils of wearing masks, and was told of the planned survey in a letter from the government’s Directorate for Learning.
Organiser Jo Bisset said: “The WHO have been very clear that when children are forced to wear masks, those in charge have to analyse the impact it has on them.
“We’ve campaigned for several weeks now for the Scottish Government to do exactly that, and it’s welcome that this step is now being taken.
“It’s not enough to simply force children to wear coverings and hope for the best.
“We know this can have a really negative impact on pupils, especially those with hearing difficulties and learning disabilities.
“We’ve been contacted by a number of parents whose children have suffered real problems since this guidance came in, and some haven’t returned to school since.
We know this can have a really negative impact on pupils, especially those with hearing difficulties and learning disabilities.”
Jo Bisset, UsForThem Scotland
“That’s why it’s so important the government puts some detailed work into evaluating the downsides of enforced mask wearing among children before taking any further decisions.”
The letter states: “We are regularly reviewing the existing and emerging evidence base on face coverings and other restrictions for young people.
“We are commissioning or supporting a number of surveys or focus groups which will add to the existing evidence base.
“Those include a survey of secondary pupils in January, regular polling of parents, work with the Scottish Youth Parliament to deliver a ‘lockdown two survey’ and a Public Health Scotland project on a second wave study.
The letter added: “As this evidence is collated and assessed over time, our expectation is that it will provide a useful basis on which to adjust and amend policy and guidance as appropriate.
“As we develop our understanding of the impact and effectiveness of the mitigations in place for children and young people, including in respect of face coverings, we will consider how best to make that evidence available more widely.”
In an interview we conducted with public health expert Professor Linda Bauld she said that while wearing a face mask all day would be uncomfortable for pupils, the risks were “very minimal”.