Government guidelines for the reopening of schools that were drawn up in June has today been updated as the policy on face coverings has changed since that time. Face masks will now be required for all students and teachers when a distance of 1 m cannot be maintained. The updated recommendations were published by the Department of Education following engagement with teachers, principals, and other key education stakeholders.The updated advice was provided by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre.
Minister for Education Norma Foley said she had been working with the public health authorities to ensure that the advice underpinning the safe reopening of schools is fully up to date. Teachers unions have welcomed the updated advice. Commenting on the news today the TUI have stated that in most schools across the country physical distancing of 2 metres is now possible so the advice is welcome in forming the back to school protocol for students and school staff.
Calls had been made during the week for health professionals for face coverings to be mandatory in secondary schools. Discussing the wearing of face masks by secondary school pupils, a consultant in infectious disease, Dr Cliona Ní Ceallaigh has said she and her colleagues would advise that face coverings should be mandatory in secondary schools.
Speaking on the the RTE programme, she also said rapid testing will be central to keeping schools open and teasing out “who has a cold and who has Covid”.
Recent government policy decisions on the use of facemasks on public transport and in other enclosed spaces had laid the foundations for the wearing of face masks in both secondary level and third level schools and colleges. In Primary schools teacher and support staff will also be required to wear a face covering.