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25 Jun 2022

Introduction of face masks in primary schools today 'protects all' - Minister for Education

Introduction of face masks in primary school  today 'protects all' - Minister for Education

Minister Norma Foley

The Minister for Education has said the introduction of mask wearing in primary schools today is on foot of an expert public health recommendation, and is a measure to protect everyone.

She said the measure will be for the benefit of all children, individually and collectively, within the education sector.

Minister Norma Foley was a guest on Newstalk's Breakfast show. 

Children from third class up will be required to wear face masks at school from today. They can be refused entry if they do not. The Department of Education has stressed that schools can be flexible in application of the rule in the first couple of days.

“There has been extraordinary buy-in from students in our schools, and from parents and guardians, and from school communities as regards all of the public health measures that are required in our schools," Minister Foley said.

“And we have always, in the education sector, followed the recommendation of public health,” she said. 

There are exemptions for some students who are not able to wear masks, she acknowledged.

Ms Foley said the measure works well at secondary school level, and there was no reason why it should not work in primary school.

"It is the view that this is a measure that protects all," she added.

Ms Foley told the radio programme that children who do not wear masks must either provide a medical certificate or go home.

“A child with complex needs, for example, or if a child has any difficulty with breathing or other relevant medical conditions, there will be exemptions and they will be very clear exemptions in that respect," Minister Foley said.

“But I also want to say that this operates at second level, it has operated seamlessly at second level," she added. 

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