No child should be excluded from school for not wearing a mask, says charity 10 months ago

No child should be excluded from school for not wearing a mask, says charity

"Any further restrictions to children will have a cumulative effect on their education and their childhood."

Irish charity Barnardos has registered its concern with the latest Government rules, specifically those that pertain to children and the directive for mask-wearing in schools.

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On Tuesday, the Government outlined new measures designed to combat the spread of Covid-19 in Ireland, with particular focus on the actions of children.

The wearing of face masks is recommended for kids aged nine and over on public transport, in retail and in other indoor public settings, as well as for children in third class and above in primary school.

This will be on a temporary basis, subject to review in mid-February, with exemptions as appropriate.

Parents have also been asked to reduce socialisation indoors for children aged 12 and younger over the next two weeks.

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Reacting to the new directives, Barnardos has sounded a note of caution regarding children's social and emotional development.

"No child should be excluded from school for not wearing a mask," said Barnardos CEO Suzanne Connolly.

"There has been insufficient preparation time given to parents and teachers to be able to introduce this public health recommendation, and no lead-time for them to prepare children for this big change.

"Covid-19 has had a huge impact on children overall – any further restrictions to children will have a cumulative effect on their education and their childhood," Connolly continued.

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"We urge the Government to keep this measure under frequent review in the best interest of children."

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has previously stated that he fully endorses the latest NPHET advice and has called on parents to keep their children safe from harm.

Asked on Today with Claire Byrne earlier this week if a parent is organising a birthday party for their child should they cancel it, Donnelly said:

"Yeah, yeah, absolutely. But remember, for a short period of time – just two or three weeks – and, critically, for the really important reason of keeping children safe.

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"Every parent will want to do the right thing to keep their kids safe, that would be the advice."