December 1, 2021


by: admin


Tags: defends, diktat, education, maskwearing, Minister, schools


Categories: Special needs education

Schooling minister defends ‘diktat’ on mask-wearing in colleges

The Minister of Education was forced to defend the new rules for wearing masks for elementary school children during a furious exchange in the Dáil.

Norma Foley also said there will be some “leeway” in the coming days as schools begin to look at the new requirements.

Children aged nine and over or in third grade must wear masks in school, on public transport, or in retail stores.

Ms. Foley was interviewed by Labor TD Aodhán Ó Ríordáin in the Dáil on Wednesday morning, hours after the government urged schools to ensure that children from third grade in elementary schools and on school transports wear masks.

Mr Ó Ríordáin beat up Ms. Foley for a lack of guidance, which he said caused the school principals to prepare for a new “overnight dictation.”

“I think it’s fair to say that school communities across Ireland are grappling with further chaotic management of messaging and leadership by your department this morning,” he told her.

He said the government and health officials insisted “schools are safe” only for new advice on how to wear masks to suddenly come out.

‘Principals must wear police’ masks

“We get an overnight dictation from the Department of Education that comes with the subtlety and compassion of a gasoline bill.

“And this morning school principals have to supervise the wearing of masks by nine-year-olds from third grade and up, without knowing what the legal consequences would be if one parent refused, with no sense of an initiation period, and with an absolute absence of comments, Guidance or guidance from yourself. ”

“All we needed last night was some kind of video message or some kind of message from the political education leader in Ireland to say we know this is a change, we know this is difficult.”

Instead, schools and parents received a “classic, soulless message” from the department.

The new rules exclude children with breathing difficulties or other relevant illnesses, people who cannot remove face coverings without assistance, or people with special needs who may feel uncomfortable when wearing face coverings.

“Schools are best placed to identify those children whose complex needs may make wearing face-coverings impossible for them and to discuss this with parents if necessary,” said the Ministry of Education’s guidelines on Tuesday evening.

“The schools were provided with instructions and information for parents and children,” Nomra Foley told the Dáil.

“In such circumstances, a school cannot require a medical certificate to grant an exemption from wearing face-coverings.” However, the guidelines state that in other circumstances, staff and students who do not wear masks and do not have a valid medical certificate, ” access to the school is refused ”.

In the Dáil, Ms. Foley said on Wednesday morning that her department was following public health advice and thanked schools and principals again for their work during the pandemic.

She said the measure would be reviewed in February 2022.

“Schools have been provided with instructions and information for parents and children,” she told the Dáil.

“As usual, schools are expected to take a hands-on approach over the next day or two as communicated to communicate the new measures to parents and ensure that parents have the opportunity to provide masks for their children.

“I am very aware that the decision was made yesterday, but the schools were given the leeway over the next few days to exchange ideas with parents and students about wearing face masks.”

This response was rejected by Mr O Riordain who said schools were only given 16 hours to prepare for the new rules.

“You can’t stand here and tell us if it’s a public health measure and be sure it’s the right way to go,” he said.

“It’s a hands-on approach for the next day or two. What kind of tour is that? What kind of certainty is that? ”He asked.

“What happens if someone comes to the school gate and flatly refuses the child a mask? What does the headmaster do then? You know?”

The Labor TD urged the Minister, “Take the opportunity, show leadership, guide schools and school communities, and actually give school principals who are doing their best to deal with anxious children that you, I must submit, have disappointed in that regard as what they needed last night was a voice of compassion, care and guidance from the political face of Irish education. ”

Ms. Foley said schools will be able to take a “flexible” approach in the coming days.

“We ask parents to cooperate, which they have done great so far, and I have no doubt that they will continue to do so in the future.

“It works seamlessly on the second level. This is a reflection of what is considered a public health measure to be a public health measure. “

Ms. Foley said the measures were designed to protect children individually and collectively and to protect school communities.  Image: Brian Lawless / PA WireMs. Foley said the measures were designed to protect children individually and collectively and to protect school communities. Image: Brian Lawless / PA Wire

Earlier, the Minister of Education said Newstalk breakfast that children who do not adhere to the mask requirement are sent home.

When asked if online training would be available to them, Ms. Foley said, “Education is possible in a school setting”.

The measures served the individual and collective protection of children and the protection of school communities, she said.

“This is a measure that protects everyone.”

She said there needs to be “absolute clarity” about how schools handle the mask requirement. It is one of a series of public health measures to limit infections in schools, she said.

Ms. Foley has advised parents of children over the age of nine who wear glasses that if they have problems wearing masks they should see their GP and get a medical certificate.

She said that if a child has difficulty wearing a mask, they should be examined by their family doctor.

“Every parent knows their child best,” she says, and if their child has a specific problem, such as glasses, they should discuss it with their family doctor, who can then provide an expert opinion and a medical certificate from the school.

The minister said the “unique priority” is that schools should stay open but all restrictions must be adhered to so that “the pressure can go off”.

In a previous conversation with radio station RTÉ, Parentline’s executive director said the new measures are guidelines for children and that school principals have discretion in cases of complex concerns.

Aileen Hickie said parents understand the importance of keeping schools open, that Covid is spreading quickly and that outbreaks need to be contained, but they are concerned about development outcomes, especially for children with hearing problems or with special needs .

She added that “once again” it is up to parents to ensure that their child wears a mask.

Ms. Hickie pointed out that parents were already struggling to get children to wear gloves and scarves, so getting them to wear masks could be even more problematic.

When asked if schools would reopen after Christmas, the Education Minister did not have a crystal ball, but if people continue to dismantle socialization and adhere to public health measures, schools should be able to reopen.

Ms. Foley denied that the Taoiseach and the chief medical officer delivered mixed messages to the public. The message from the CMO was clear that everyone should reduce socialization, the Taoiseach repeated the same message, she said.

That was a consistent message, she added. It now included younger children as well. Dr. Tony Holohan had asked “broader society” to reduce their sociability.


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