Note: This page was last updated on the 7 December 2021.
Guidance on the use of Face Coverings FAQs
A decision was taken by Government on 30 November 2021 that face coverings should be worn by pupils third class and upwards in primary schools. This was communicated to schools via a letter from the Department of Education on the same date.
The requirement for the wearing of face coverings came in to effect on the next school day, 1 December, 2021. However, it was recognised and understood that schools needed to take a practical approach in the first day or two in order to communicate the new measures to parents/guardians and to ensure parents/guardians provided masks to children prior to its implementation.
The letter issued to schools on the 30 November 2021 states that the measure is a temporary measure and will be subject to review in mid-February 2022.
Although the guidance is not on a statutory footing, the information note issued to schools is unequivocally clear that this is a requirement for all pupils. There are some limited exemptions to this requirement as outlined in Question 6 below.
The measure will apply to pupils from third class upwards in primary schools until the advice is reviewed in the new year.
The DE has set out three categories of exemptions to the requirement to wear a face covering. These include:
- Any pupil with difficulty breathing or other relevant medical conditions
- Any pupil who is unable to remove the cloth face-covering or visor without assistance
- Any pupil who has special needs and who may feel upset or very uncomfortable wearing the cloth face covering or visor, for example pupils with intellectual or developmental disabilities, mental health conditions, sensory concerns or tactile sensitivity.
The vast majority of exempted children will not require medical certification to receive an exemption from wearing a face covering. Schools are familiar with their pupils needs and are well placed to identify those children whose complex needs mean that the wearing of face covering may not be appropriate. The school should discuss this with parents/guardians as required. In such circumstances a school will not require medical certification to provide an exemption to the wearing of face coverings.
8. What should happen where a parent/guardian refuses to provide their child with a face covering or if the pupil refuses to wear a face covering coming in to the school?
The school should engage with the parents/guardians and explain the requirements for the use of face coverings i.e. as a public health measure to protect the health and safety of the school community. Support and guidance are available from the Department of Education to help resolve any issues. Should the issue remain unresolved schools should contact the Department of Education Covid-19 support and an Inspector will provide further support to the school. The email is Covid19_alert@education.gov.ie.
The telephone contact number is 057 9324461