Early Years Educators Concerned About MEDE’s Decision To Exempt Children From Wearing Masks In Schools Against Public Health Regulations

Less than 2 days after the press briefing where the Superintendent of Public Health stated in no roundabout way that it was only children under the age of three who were to be exempted from wearing a mask, the Union of Professional Educators – Voice of the Workers gets notified that masks will be worn from grade one. This means that in schools masks will be worn only from the age of 5.

To make the picture clearer, the expert in the field of Health, who should know the risks of not acting in a particular way, said that to curb the virus anyone from the age of 3 upwards should be wearing a mask. However, the Ministry of Education, despite its non-involvement in the health sector, and despite its lack of knowledge in the area, felt that the instruction given by the Health Authorities could be tampered with and modified, exempting children aged 3 and 4 from the use of masks.

The union would have understood had the exemption been extended to particular cases where due to a condition or a disability the child cannot physically be expected to wear a mask, but extending that exemption to each and every child within the kindergarten years, despite there having been an instruction to do otherwise by the highest authority in the field of health, just sounds ludicrous. 

The union asks, if these children can go without a mask while mixing and mingling with another 12 to 15 children plus 2 adults in an enclosed area within an educational building welcoming hundreds of children during a pandemic where the virus may or may not be air-born, how can we expect parents not to think that it is utter balderdash to have these children wear a mask outdoors in less crowded spaces? How can it then be enforced in a supermarket with half a dozen people moving around the shop? Why should it even be contemplated that these kids walk about the village streets, or visit the village square, wearing a mask? Why should they wear a mask on their way to mass, play dates or extracurricular activities?

The worst part of it, is how it is made sound like it is out of concern for the “poor kids” who would find it too hard to wear a piece of cloth over their nose, mouth and chin. There have already been cases within this year group, and Dr. Mellillo on Newsbook on Saturday 17th October, even confirmed there having been a newborn who contracted the virus. These children are not invulnerable and they too carry the virus: what is better, a piece of cloth until we weather the storm, or risking our children’s long-term health? 

Does the Ministry of Education want to make us believe it knows better than our Health Authorities now?