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Kilkenny principal calls on Minister to clarify face mask guidelines

It's as local schools begin to return this week

More schools across Carlow Kilkenny are opening their doors to students for the first time this morning since March – but local primary schools are still crying out for further guidance on face masks.

Secondary students are asked to wear the covering where they can’t stay socially distant.

But the advice is different for kids under 13 even though the World health Organisation has recently changed it’s advice on the over-sixes.

Joe McKeown is the Principal of St Patrick’s De La Salle in Kilkenny and vice president of the INTO.

He’s calling for the Minister to clarify the guidelines so there’s no confusion noting “We now need the minister to say ‘primary schools, as regards face masks, we know the WHO is recommending face masks for children over the age of six, this is what you should do’ we’d be happy to follow that”.

Mr McKeown also believes that parents should be given an entitlement to time off work if their kids show symptoms of the virus, saying “We need the employers to be supportive of parents who are called to schools urgently because there might be a suspected Covid-19 issue, so again we would like the government to make it very clear to employers what they should do and perhaps to give parents actually an entitlement to leave work if it is necessary for Covid-related reasons to get a sick child”

And he’s reassuring parents that teachers won’t be putting extra pressure on students to catch up for lost time pointing out “I think the key message that I would say to parents is we’re not going to be talking about catching up, we’re going to be talking about carrying on from where the children are. They have the whole lives ahead of them and we will just look to where they are at this moment and we will pick up the pieces and move on from there”.

Meanwhile, our reporter Shauna McHugh’s been on local streets asking parents for their views – some are anxious while others are delighted to see the younger folk mixing with their friends.

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