07 Oct 2022

Covid masks ruled out for primary schoolchildren but not secondary students

Covid masks ruled out for primary schoolchildren but not secondary students

The wearing of face masks in secondary school looks set to remain compulsory for now although HIQA have been ruled out for primary school pupils.

The benefits of primary schoolchildren wearing face masks as a Covid-19 protection measure are likely to be small, according to a Hiqa review which looked at their use in under 13-year-olds, the current cut-off point.

Nphet has since accepted the advice but its expert advisory committee said it was “premature” to consider revising the wearing of masks in secondary school which is currently is mandatory.

Dr Conor Teljeur, Hiqa’s chief scientist said: “The use of layered mitigation measures in schools and childcare facilities, such as physical distancing, hand hygiene, cough etiquette, increased ventilation, and, most importantly, not attending when you have symptoms of Covid-19, reduces the risk of transmission of SARS-CoV-2.

“National and international evidence suggests that when these mitigation measures are fully implemented, schools become low risk environments.”

Dr Teljeur added: “As there are currently high rates of infection in the community, we encourage parents and children to continue to observe public health guidance before, during and after school activities. We also recommend that anyone who has the opportunity to avail of the Covid-19 vaccine does so.”

Hiqa also reviewed the use of rapid antigen testing in real-world settings for screening or surveillance of asymptomatic individuals-those who have no known or suspected exposure to Covid-19 -to limit transmission of the virus.

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