Coronavirus: Face masks in schools ‘unrealistic’ says Education Minister Peter Weir

Education Minister Peter Weir has ruled out the use of face masks for pupils in schools, as a teachers’ union raised concerns over safety measures.

Friday, 7th August 2020, 8:53 am
Pupils will return to the classroom in the new term

All pupils will return to school full-time in Northern Ireland from the beginning of term, Mr Weir announced on Thursday.

But the use of face coverings is not “necessary or implementable” at this stage, he told Good Morning Ulster.

He said it was “unrealistic”, particularly for younger children, to wear masks.

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Mr Weir said it was “the right approach” to prioritise education.

“Any action that is taken within Covid, any inaction, carries some level of risk. We are not saying social distancing is abandoned,” he told the BBC/

“There would be whole class bubbles from years 1-10 and to minimise movements of other classes from years 11-14.”

But Jacquie White General Secretary of the Ulster Teachers’ Union says there are “big concerns” among teachers about implementing safety measures in schools in time for reopening.

“This announcement yesterday then is promising further guidance which isn’t going to come out until potentially the end of next week, which is about the 13th or 14th (August) and teachers are back in school on the 17th.

“So, it is a very quick turnaround in trying to take plans that have already been put in place and adapt them for large numbers,” Ms White said.

“There will be children in the school when we try and make these adjustments,” she added.