Children in much of Europe will be going maskless at school this fall.

Anthony LaMesa
6 min readAug 17, 2021

From Iceland to Denmark and England to Switzerland, many European children — and their teachers — won’t be donning masks when they return to classrooms.

Despite rising tensions over school mask mandates in the United States — with even the head-of-state bizarrely intervening — the mask question is less controversial in much of Europe, a continent where many countries will have mask-free learning environments this fall.

Most students in the United Kingdom — the UK’s constituent nations determine education and health policy — and Ireland won’t be masking up next year.

In Wales and England, face masks won’t be required for any students this fall, although English students will be encouraged to mask in crowded areas, such as buses. Secondary students in Northern Ireland will begin the year masking in classrooms, but the rule will be reviewed and the education minister is hopeful it will be lifted. Similarly, in Scotland, secondary students will mask in their classrooms for about six weeks after school starts this week — so all staff have the opportunity to get fully vaccinated — but the education minister hopes the rule can be lifted “as soon as possible”:

She added: “Of course we would like to take these restrictions off as soon as possible. We think they might be in place for up to six weeks, that’s to ensure that all the staff within our schools have the opportunity to be fully doubly vaccinated.

“But if we can take those restrictions — particularly the face masks — off earlier then of course we would do that.”

In Ireland, face masks are not recommended for children under 13. For schools, this means face masks are not required in Irish primary schools, but are required in secondary schools.

Iceland will only require face masks for upper secondary students when moving about their schools (e.g. hallways), but not when seated in classrooms. Masks are not required anywhere in Iceland for children born in 2006 and later.

Norway has never recommended face masks at any level of schooling. Indeed, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health explicitly advises against masking primary school-aged children.

In Sweden, where masks are no longer even recommended on public transit at rush

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