Mask Guidelines to Be Eased for Japan’s Schools from April

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Elementary school students wear masks as they sing their school song in Osaka in March 2022.

The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry will no longer ask students and teachers to wear masks at school starting in April, but will continue to recommend masking up when riding crowded trains and buses to and from school, and when visiting medical institutions for field trips.

The ministry will notify the country’s boards of education of the change on Friday, and will ask that there be thorough ventilation in music classes and during group work, where the risk of infection is high.

Since March 13, the decision on whether to mask has been left up to the individual, but the government had decided to ease the masking guidelines for schools only from April 1 onward, fearing that a change in policy in the middle of the semester might cause confusion.

When singing in a chorus or playing the recorder in music class, students are to leave a space of about 1 meter in front of them and 50 centimeters on either side. Even if students sit facing each other at their desks at lunch, they will not be asked to eat silently as long as there is good ventilation and a suitable distance between them.

The new guidelines call for group work to be done in small groups and for students to refrain from loud conversations. At graduation ceremonies, for which masking guidelines have already been eased, students were asked to wear masks when singing their school song to prevent droplet spread, but at entrance ceremonies, students will be allowed to sing without wearing masks if they keep their distance from one another.

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo