Challenges on primary school guidelines

By Dan Walsh

Government guidelines introducing face coverings in primary schools is causing immediate concerns in the school communities and is likely to escalate into national headlines with one Wexford teacher challenging An Taoiseach and the Minister for Education on the ethics of the decision.

Principal of Gaelscoil Inis Córthaidh, Judy Ní Ifearnáin, has taken to social media, on a personal basis, and taking a stand against the compulsory nature of this measure which she and her fellow INTO members are expected to enforce such as the refusal of entry to unmasked pupils without medical certification.

Government guidelines on the use of face coverings in primary schools, effective from this morning (Wednesday) were issued by the Department of Education last evening.

NPHET has recommended the wearing of face masks/coverings by children aged nine years and above on public transport, in retail and other indoor public settings as already required for children aged 13 years and over. They have also recommended that this is introduced for children in 3rd class and above in primary schools. They have advised that this measure is being introduced on a temporary basis and is subject to review in mid-February 2022.

Ms Uí Ifearnáin said she has taken all the public safety advice. “Up to now I did everything asked of me” – wash hands wear the mask, take the vaccine, reduce social contacts etc.

“But now I am expected as a school leader to stand at a door and tell an unmasked nine-year-old who doesn’t have a ‘medical certificate’ or ‘special needs that they can’t come to school,” said an angry Ms Uí Ifearnáin, who added; “Micheál Martin and Norma Foley – No Way! Absolutely no way!”

The story is expected to run and run…

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