Face Coverings Are Now Required In School & College: Here’s What You Need To Know

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On Friday it was announced that when schools return in September it will be mandatory for students and staff to wear face coverings in school and in college in Ireland. This move wasn’t entirely unexpected as face coverings are now required in shops and where a 2 metre social distance isn’t achievable.

This is just another way that our lives have changed due to COVID-19. It won’t be like this forever, but it’s important that will all do our part to the best of our ability to eradicate COVID-19, this now means wearing a mask for school.

Here’s everything you need to know:

The Government Advice On Face Coverings In School

  • It is now recommended that teachers and secondary school students wear face coverings, similar to those worn in shops or on public transport, when a physical distance of 2 metres cannot be maintained.
  • Face coverings are recommended that are reusable and washed once every day as is consistent with the recommendation to wear face coverings in other contexts such as on public transport, in shops and indoors where a 2m physical distance cannot be maintained.
  • Students at post primary level, apart from specific exemptions will be required to wear face coverings in the classroom.
  • All staff and students using the post-primary school transport service will be required to wear face coverings on the bus.
  • Staff, including teachers at both primary and post primary levels, who cannot maintain a 2m distance from students or other staff will be required to wear face coverings.
  • All SNAs will be required to wear face coverings, or in certain situations clear visors, in the classroom.
  • Other staff, e.g. bus escorts, who have close contact with students will be required to wear face coverings.

There Will Be Exemptions

The up-take in mask wearing in recent weeks has demonstrated that the vast majority of people are more than willing to comply with wearing masks, as it keeps everyone safe. But there are some people who are exempt from wearing masks for medical reasons.

At the moment there is no list of accepted exemptions for face coverings in schools and colleges, but the exemptions for the general wearing of face covering in public state that reasonable excuses include if you:

  • Cannot put a face covering on because of a physical or mental illness
  • Need to communicate with someone who has difficulties communicating
  • Are providing care to a vulnerable person
  • Are taking medication
 
Breathing conditions, such as asthma, are also accepted reasons for not wearing a face covering.
 

So far it hasn’t been stated what proof you will need to provide to schools that you should be exempt, but possibly be prepared to get a note from your GP.

It’s also important that you don’t jump to conclusions or judge people for not wearing masks as you don’t know their medical history. If someone in your class is not wearing a mask do not make a big deal out of it. Trust that there is a reason for it, and that reason is none of your business.

We all still have our part to play in different ways, such as maintaining social distance from those not in our household, washing our hands regularly and maintaining good hygiene when it comes to coughing and sneezing. And for the most of us, it also means wearing a face covering.

Some Mask Advice

Look, we’re all still getting used to this. It’s a big change for everyone, but we are all in this together.

In terms of some helpful advice around wearing masks, we previously did articles which you will hopefully find helpful:

What are your feelings on wearing face coverings in school and college?

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