Thursday, 24 September 2020

Questions (139)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

139. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education the position of her Department on whether post-primary pupils should wear masks during PE class. [26060/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Physical Education (PE) is important and students should be encouraged to participate in PE in schools. As part of the return to school plans my Department has published guidance for practical subjects in Post Primary Schools, including guidance for PE.

This guidance is based on Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) guidance for the return to sports activities for children and adolescents. The guidance provides that, where practical, PE lessons should take place outdoors. If this is not possible, the external PE hall doors should be opened. Face coverings do not have to be worn outdoors. Indoors where physical distancing is not possible, face coverings should be worn by post primary students. Face coverings are not recommended to be worn by primary school children.

However Public health advice also provides that cloth face coverings should not be worn by any of the following groups:

- any person with difficulty breathing

- any person who is unable to remove the face-covering without assistance

- any person who has special needs and who may feel upset or very uncomfortable wearing the face covering, for example persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities, mental health conditions, sensory concerns or tactile sensitivity.

A medical certificate must be provided to the school where an exemptions is sought on the above grounds. There is no capacity for schools to deviate from either the general requirement to wear face coverings or from the limited exemptions that apply.

Advice for schools on the use of face coverings is available in the COVID-19 Response Plans for schools published on the www.gov.ie/backtoschool