Pupils from the third grade will wear face masks at school

Parents will need a medical certificate if they want to prevent a child from the third grade on having to wear a face mask in accordance with the guidelines to be issued to schools.

Official guidelines produced by the Ministry of Education state that any unmasked student who cannot provide proof of an exemption will be “refused entry to school.”

The guidelines are not backed up by law – so children will not commit an offense for refusing a mask – but, like existing public health rules on face masks for high school students, schools are responsible for doing so. respect.

The rules – which come into effect on Wednesday – follow the government’s approval of the Nphet (National Public Health Emergency Team) that students in third grade in primary school should wear face masks indoors .

In addition, children aged nine and over will be required to wear face masks on public transportation, retail businesses and other indoor public places, as is the case for children aged 13 and over.

The measure is being put in place on a temporary basis and will be reviewed in mid-February 2022.

A medical certificate will be required to determine if a student is covered by an exemption. These exemptions include:

Any student with breathing difficulties or other relevant medical conditions;

Any student unable to remove the face cover or fabric visor without assistance; and

Any student who has special needs and who may feel upset or very uncomfortable wearing the face covering or fabric visor, for example, students with intellectual or developmental disabilities, mental health issues, sensory problems or tactile sensitivity.

The guidelines say that schools will be in the best position to identify children whose complex needs are such that wearing a face covering may not be possible for them, and to discuss this with parents as necessary.

In these circumstances, a school may not require a medical certificate to grant an exemption from wearing face coverings.

Where there are mixed classes – for example, second and third class in the same class – schools should note that only children in third class and above are required to wear face masks.

As per the previous advice, however, parents of other children who would prefer their children to wear a face mask are not precluded from doing so.

Parents will be advised that they should obtain face masks for their children that fit properly and are comfortable for the child to wear.

In the event that a child forgets, loses or damages their masks during the school day, the school must have sufficient stock to replace the mask as a back-up face covering or, if necessary, in a way keep on going.

Mixed reaction

The decision on the masks drew a mixed reaction from parent groups and teachers.

Áine Lynch, executive director of the National Parents Council primary school, said that 95% of the thousands of messages he has received from parents in recent days oppose the compulsory wearing of face masks.

“Many parents have serious concerns about this. They are concerned about the developmental effects this will have on children. They’ve been through a lot already. They include anxious children and other additional needs that might not be officially registered, ”she said.

“The concern is that this will become a very controversial and difficult issue for schools to deal with. We call for flexibility and for the rules to be consultative rather than binding.

The Irish National Teachers’ Organization (INTO) said it recognizes the decision which follows an “ever-deteriorating public health landscape” with nearly 20,000 positive cases among school-aged children in the month latest.

The union said it was imperative for the government to communicate the provisions in a clear and consistent manner to school communities.

“Likewise, it is essential that any orientation be adapted to students with additional needs who, for medical reasons, will not be able to wear a face covering in school,” he said.


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