The Department of Education will not automatically provide medical-grade face masks to instructors, according to a TEACHERS’ UNION.
The INTO reported last night that the Department of Education had agreed to distribute medical-grade masks to teachers ahead of tomorrow’s reopening.
The primary-school teachers’ union stated today that the masks are to be obtained by schools using their Covid-19 capitation budget, meaning instructors must request them from their school’s board of management.
The INTO released a statement stating what was agreed upon during yesterday’s talks with Norma Foley, Department officials, teacher unions, school management, and parent groups.
It stated the Department of Education has provided additional steps to open schools, including medical-grade face masks.
N95 and FFP2 face masks are common medical-grade face masks.
The union said the government had finally agreed to give instructors with medical grade face masks. The Department of Education must guarantee schools have appropriate supplies of this type of face mask.”
Teachers have been asking the Department for medical-grade face masks since the first lockdown in the spring of 2020.
Schools will reopen tomorrow following the Christmas break, amid an Omicron wave that has seen record daily Covid-19 cases, well above what NPHET expected before the holiday.
Thousands of teachers could miss school owing to Covid-19 or close contact laws that require them to limit their movements for five or ten days depending on whether they received a booster shot.
Classes may be consolidated or dismissed for the day.
In an interview with RTÉ Radio’s Morning Ireland today, Minister Foley stated that “Public Health were and are of the view that the current measures are sufficient”.
“Last night, the unions asked Public Health to look into the issue of face masks again, and Public Health agreed.
When these medical-grade masks
After the minister’s statements, the INTO tweeted that they requested clarification from the Department and were advised that schools can use Covid capitation cash to offer FFP2 face masks to teachers.
“We urge any member who desires to utilise such a mask to do so,” the union declared.
The ASTI’s General Secretary, Kieran Christie, told Newstalk Breakfast today that members were worried about their own and students’ safety amid the Omicron wave.
ASTI had demanded medical-grade face masks be required in school settings instead of reusable cloth masks, but that wasn’t agreed upon during yesterday’s talks with the Department of Education.
Until February 2022, children in third class and upwards are recommended to conceal their faces.
“We accept the public health advice will be made available to teachers,” he said.