‘Better late than never’ – parents on mask-wearing in schools

Families happy to comply but want new rule to be temporary to reduce Covid-19 cases

At school gates, parents had to ensure children, aged nine and upwards, had their masks on properly before they headed into classrooms. Photograph: Bryan O Brien/The Irish Times

At school gates, parents had to ensure children, aged nine and upwards, had their masks on properly before they headed into classrooms. Photograph: Bryan O Brien/The Irish Times

 

Parents dropping children off at primary schools in Dublin were generally happy for their kids to follow Covid-19 mandatory mask-wearing for school pupils although some expressed reservations.

“I agree with it if it is going to keep the schools open and protect everybody,” said Maeve Henson after dropping her son at Holy Cross School in Dundrum, south Dublin.

Her son, in sixth class, was happy to wear the mask, but her daughter, in third class, was a little uncomfortable because she wears glasses that fog up when she wears a mask.

From today, children from third class upwards are required to wear face masks in school with exemptions for children who can provide a medical certificate.

At school gates, parents ensured their children, aged nine and upwards, had their masks on properly before they headed into classrooms. The short notice from Government on the rule did not seem to be a problem.

Philip Taylor, whose daughter is in third class at Holy Cross, felt that mask-wearing for children was inevitable, but he believes others should be making sacrifices as well.

“To put it on the shoulders of the children when people are going to pubs and restaurants is just ridiculous,” he said.

“In all the regulations that we have been through, I have supported everything. And I support this too but, if they are going to be doing this, they should be doing it at the same time as pubs and restaurants are closed.”

Father of three Shane O’Sullivan said the measure has come a month too late for his family as his children contracted Covid-19 when there were cases in the school last month.

“It is better late than never if it reduces it. If it protects anybody else, it has to be a good thing,” said O’Sullivan, whose children in third and sixth classes must now wear masks.

Contact tracing

Another parent could not understand why the Government abandoned contact tracing on cases in schools and is now insisting on primary school children wearing masks.

“There is no point putting the mask on everybody and then just hoping the numbers go away. They don’t want to reflect that it is coming from schools,” she said.

Around the corner at Taney Parish Primary School, Stephen Hopkins was dropping off his daughter Chloe, who is in fourth class and was happy to be wearing her unicorn mask.

“It remains to be seen what impact it does or doesn’t have with the masks. They are still socialising elsewhere. How much can you control at this stage?” he said.

Aoife Deasy, whose daughter Grace is in sixth class, said she felt sad to see children going into school wearing masks but was happy to comply if it reduced the spread of the virus.

“Of course I trust the experts when they say it will help to slow transmission and I don’t believe mask-wearing will have a negative impact on their development,” she said.

“It’s just such a pity to see the effect the pandemic is having on their lives. But I would rather see them in school wearing masks than having to stay at home.”