Children will not be excluded from school for not wearing a mask – report
The Department of Education has revised its ruling.
Older children will not be excluded from attending primary school if they refuse to wear a mask, according to new guidance set out by the Department of Education.
Last week, fresh measures introduced by Government recommended the use of face masks for children aged nine and over on public transport, in retail and in other indoor public settings, as well as for kids in third class and above in primary school.
The school aspect, in particular, quickly led to confusion and criticism, with children's charity Barnardos arguing that "no child should be excluded from school for not wearing a mask" and calling on Government to frequently review its decision.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin also expressed some unease of his own regarding the approach, stating that he was not "entirely 100% comfortable" in relation to the advice on masks for children.
One week on, it appears that the measure has been scaled back.
RTÉ News reports that new Department of Education guidance circulated to schools removes any mention of potentially excluding a child from attending their studies due to not wearing a mask without providing medical reason.
"It is not intended that any child will be excluded from a school in the first instance," the Department guidance is quoted as stating.
A spokesperson for the Department of Education told RTÉ News that the direction has not been fully rescinded, however.
It is understood that the document in question is structured as an FAQ, noting that "schools will engage pragmatically with parents" in the instance of a child turning up to school without a face covering.
On Sunday, the Department of Health confirmed 5,156 new cases of Covid-19 in Ireland.
As of Sunday morning, 503 patients are in hospital in relation to the virus, of whom 110 are in ICU.