Rush to introduce face masks in schools is counterproductive

Fórsa said today that it supports the use of face masks in schools, but said the Government’s rush to implement the practice will make it difficult to achieve.

The union added that its school-based members – special needs assistants (SNAs), school secretaries, and caretakers – should not be asked to exclude students for refusing to wear a mask, as this is the responsibility of school principals and senior teachers.

Fórsa’s head of education, Andy Pike, also welcomed the fact that education department guidelines exempt children with special educational needs from the requirement to wear masks if it would cause difficulties with communication, raise anxiety levels, or cause other problems.

“Fórsa supports the use of face masks as an effective way of addressing the transmission of the virus in our schools. But the way in which the education department has implemented the policy is counterproductive, and will make the effective use of face masks much more difficult to achieve. The measure shouldn’t have been implemented overnight with no time to build consensus or explain the requirements to students, parents and staff,” he said.

Mr Pike added that the union continues to request that the HSE reinstates the contact tracing and testing supports that were withdrawn on 27th September.

Full guidance on face masks/coverings in Primary schools can be accessed HERE.