Will it be mandatory for NI children to wear face-coverings when they return to school next month?

Tens of thousands of Northern Ireland children are set to return to school next month.

Tuesday, 28th July 2020, 12:18 pm

In light of some schools in England demanding pupils wear face-coverings The News Letter asked Northern Ireland’s Department of Education (DE) if Education Minister, Peter Weir, had ruled out asking schoolchildren and teachers to wear face-coverings or face-masks when schools reopen for the first time since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic next month.

Also in England, NASUWT, the Teachers’ Union, is calling for the government to make the wearing of face-coverings in schools mandatory.

“Current Department of Education guidance for schools states that PPE, including the use of facemasks, will only be required in a small number of cases,” said a DE spokesperson.

NI schools will start to return from next month onward. (Photo: PA Wire)

“The department continues to update its guidance on an ongoing basis in line with Public Health Advice,” the spokesperson added.

Current DE guidelines regarding situations when Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) should be worn by school staff are:

- A facemask should be worn if a distance of two metres cannot be maintained from someone with symptoms of COVID-19. [Symptomatic children should not be in school].

- If contact is necessary, gloves, an apron and a facemask should be worn.

- If a risk assessment determines that there is a risk of fluids entering the eye (e.g. from coughing, spitting or vomiting), eye protection should also be worn.