A group of medical experts advising the health ministry has said that schools “can consider” letting people attend graduation and entrance ceremonies in March and April without masks, amid recent government moves to steer people toward removing masks ahead of its official reclassification of COVID-19 in May.

In a carefully worded statement that distances itself from the views of the government, the experts said that, while “universal masking” in schools is known to be effective at reducing the risks of coronavirus infections, schools can consider reviewing whether they will ask attendees to wear masks at the important functions this spring.

“It is understandable that people feel inclined to remove their masks during once-in-a-lifetime events such as commencement and matriculation ceremonies,” read the statement, which was signed by 13 experts, including health ministry advisory board chair Takaji Wakita, and released on Wednesday. “In situations where the area’s infection trends have calmed down, (schools) can consider allowing attendees not to wear masks.”