Children’s Rights Alliance Statement on Facemasks for Children Over 9 Years
Responding to news reports that NPHET is recommending the introduction of facemasks for children aged nine years or over in education settings, Tanya Ward, Children’s Rights Alliance Chief Executive said today that:
“We have heard first-hand from our members and parents – through our Helpline – that facemasks can interfere with a child’s wellbeing, particularly those children with conditions such as autism, children with learning difficulties or with health issues, such as asthma. This means that some children will find it difficult or indeed impossible to wear a mask in school. It is vitally important that Government provides crystal clear advice to schools now, rather than later, to ensure they take account of each child’s needs in accessing their right to an education. Clear guidance will also avoid unnecessary conflict and distress.
“We are calling on Government to provide clear exceptions to this new rule, which is in line with advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO). The WHO position is clear: all children under six should not be required to wear masks, but it also calls on decision-makers to consider other factors specific to individual children, including the child’s ability to use a mask safely and appropriately as well as considering the ‘potential impact of wearing a mask on learning and psychosocial development, in consultation with teachers, parents/caregivers and/or medical providers’. For children with disabilities or other specific health conditions, it advises that a decision should be made on a case by case basis.”
On the wider restrictions on children’s socialisation over the next two weeks, Ms Ward also said:
“Not being able to meet friends for playdates and parties is very difficult for children and young people but this recommendation from NPHET is for a short period. The bigger issue for children and young people is the potential for future widespread closures in early years settings and schools.
“There is mounting, devastating evidence of the impact of school closures on our children and young people. And with WHO already reporting Ireland as having the longest school closures for primary schools in the world, we must act now to avoid further closures. We know that we lose children from education with every school closure. Children and young people regress, fall behind and it is the most vulnerable children in the country who pay the highest price and who will do so for many years to come.”
For more information or interview bids, contact:
Carys Mair Thomas, Children’s Rights Alliance
email@example.com Tel: +353 1 8605574 (24/7 availability, diverted to mobile)
Notes to editor:
• Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance is available for interview.
• You can read our Helpline Report here (case study on p12): https://www.childrensrights.ie/sites/default/files/Spotlight%20Helpline%...
• Q&A issued by WHO in August 2020 on children and facemasks can be accessed here:
Helpline Case Study: 2020
Helena* contacted the Helpline because the school was refusing her son John* access to education if he did not wear a facemask. She already had a letter from John’s doctor to explain that he had a medical reason for not wearing it.
The school accepted this letter initially but then reversed its position, stating John had to wear a facemask. She made a complaint to the Principal and the Board of Management without success.
We were able to give her information on how to make a complaint to the Department of Education and the Ombudsman for Children.
*Names have changed to protect their identities.
Please include details of our Helpline for your readers:
Children's Rights Alliance helpline: 01 902 0494
Open Mondays 10am to 2pm, Wednesdays 2pm to 7pm and Friday 10am to 12 noon.
About the Children’s Rights Alliance
Founded in 1995, the Children’s Rights Alliance unites over 120 members working together to make Ireland one of the best places in the world to be a child. Further information is available at: www.childrensrights.ie or on Twitter, @ChildRightsIRL.