Cabinet committee to consider face mask guidance for school children

The Cabinet sub-committee will tomorrow consider latest World Health Organisation recommendations on the wearing of face masks by schoolchildren aged between six and 11 years.

The WHO has issued guidance saying children over the age of 12 should wear masks, in line with recommended practice for adults in their country or area.

For children aged between six and 11, the WHO advises taking into account how widespread the transmission of the virus is and whether the child is interacting with high-risk individuals such as the elderly.

It also stresses the need for adult supervision to help children use, put on and take off masks safely.

Little is known about how children transmit the virus but evidence is showing that teenagers can infect others in the same way as adults. Children aged five and under should not normally wear masks, the WHO said.

Finalising protocols for schools’ return will dominate the agenda of the Cabinet sub-committee on Covid which will meet tomorrow.

The Government has made the re-opening of schools a top priority and the meeting is set to hear from Education Minister Norma Foley about how schools will cope with outbreaks should they happen.

It is understood the meeting will consider how schools will operate isolation rooms and how children who are found to be Covid-positve are to be treated.

Senior government sources have suggested the future opening dates of pubs will not be discussed at this meeting, dashing the hopes of publicans who are eager for clarity

“It is all about the schools and what needs to be done to make that happen. I’d be highly surprised if anything to do with pubs is raised,” said one minister.

“We understand the frustration of pub owners who are eager to get back, but getting the schools back is make or break for the Government,” the minister said.

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