Japan's education ministry issues revised school manual covering masks

Japan's education ministry has notified boards of education across the country of a revised manual on sanitary management including the use of face masks. The move comes ahead of an antivirus policy shift scheduled to take effect on April 1 that says wearing face masks at schools is no longer advised.

The revised manual basically does not advise school staff or students to wear masks, but says mask-wearing is recommended if they ride on crowded trains or others to commute or visit healthcare or elderly care facilities.

The manual says school staff should refrain from pressing students to wear or take off masks, as some students want to wear them and others cannot due to heath conditions.

It also says schools should provide appropriate guidance to students to prevent possible discrimination or bias related to mask-wearing.

As for activities with higher infection risks, such as chorus classes, the manual instructs schools to take full ventilation and other antivirus measures. It says people need not stay silent during lunch, but are urged to refrain from chatting loudly.

Education minister Nagaoka Keiko told reporters on Friday that the ministry will thoroughly convey the policy change to local education boards and schools so that students can enjoy their school life fully and safely.