Nicola Sturgeon has been told to drop the requirement for face masks to be worn in classrooms in her Covid update tomorrow.

The Scottish Conservatives have said they believe it is time for SNP ministers to "end the mixed messaging coming out of the Scottish Government by listening to their advisors and ending the restriction immediately".

It comes after National Clinical Director Jason Leitch said that “the day is coming” for masks in classrooms to go.

However, Deputy First Minister John Swinney said the need for them remained “absolute”.

The party has also argued that Professor Devi Sridhar and infections expert Dr Christine Tait-Burkard are both in agreement with Professor Leitch.

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It said Professor Sridhar, who sits on the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 Advisory Group, had stated that children should be the first to be allowed to return to normality, with masks in classrooms dropped.

Masks are currently compulsory for all school staff and secondary pupils.

Education experts have previously spoken of the negative effects that wearing face coverings have on children’s education, particularly those with additional needs.

The Scottish Conservatives claim the case against masks in classrooms is now overwhelming and that the First Minister should lift this restriction at tomorrow’s update.

The change has already been introduced south of the Border. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to begin lifting “Plan B” Covid rules also means masks will not be needed in school communal areas from January 27.

HeraldScotland: Oliver Mundell wants to see classroom face mask rules changed.Oliver Mundell wants to see classroom face mask rules changed.

Oliver Mundell, Scottish Conservative Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Education, said: “The SNP cannot keep ignoring the weight of argument against face masks in classrooms.

“Education experts are clear that face masks in classrooms have a negative impact on learning, especially for those children with extra needs, and scientific experts are in agreement that it’s safe for them to go.

“So there is no excuse for this restriction remaining in place, and Nicola Sturgeon should lift it immediately.

“Pupils, teachers and parents are desperate for a return to normal learning after two years of disruption, so it’s time the First Minister listened to her own experts.

"With curbs being eased across the country this week, under the SNP school kids remain all but forgotten as ministers continue to drag their heels at the expense of our children’s education.”

Mr Mundell's remarks echo those made recently by parent campaigners.

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“It’s unfair on Scotland’s school children that they must continue to wear masks while their contemporaries in England can now get on without them,” said UFTScotland organiser Jo Bisset.

“This isn’t the first time restrictions have been more severe on young people here, and it’s not the first time rules have been tougher for kids than for adults.

“The Scottish Government has now belatedly admitted that the closure of schools does more harm than good, something parents across Scotland have been telling them for more than 18 months. They should now realise that the same applies to forcing children to wear masks all day.”

Stand By Me Scotland co-organiser Ruth Harley, who is also a teacher, added: "Our senior pupils have been wearing them all day in school for 15 months now. The Scottish Government has continually moved the goalposts on when this measure, which was only supposed to be in place for the first 6 weeks of the autumn term, will be removed. This cannot continue.

“You can now go clubbing without a mask, eat a meal in a restaurant without a mask, debate in the Scottish Parliament without a mask - yet our children as young as 11 are expected to wear them for 6-7 hours a day in school. That just isn’t right.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said its position had "not changed in relation to the wearing of face coverings in schools". He added: "As has been the case throughout the pandemic we will continue to monitor the data on an ongoing basis and, if there is any change to that position, Parliament will be advised.”