| 6.7°C Dublin

teachers' dilemma Primary school principal says staff must be able to close windows as 'children are freezing’

Vicky Baron also warns mask wearing will be ‘difficult to manage’


CBS Primary School Principal Vicky Barron

CBS Primary School Principal Vicky Barron

CBS Primary School Principal Vicky Barron

The principal of CBS Primary School in Wexford town has said primary schools are in ‘unchartered territory’ with children and mask wearing.

Vicky Barron said Nphet’s recommendation for children in third class and up to wear face masks while in school will be “difficult to manage”. She said it will depend on parental choice.

“It’s going to depend on the school type and parental choice as well. We do have junior infants wearing a mask all day, we do not have all junior infants wearing a mask all day. There are some children who cannot physically wear a mask all day and that goes all the way up.

“It’s going to be interesting because if it’s brought in now children have already been attending school not wearing masks. Children are already currently in school who have had Covid, do they need to wear masks?

“It’s going to be very difficult to manage. What we have seen is some of the children who have been wearing masks because they were in the minority some other children did comment and made them feel uncomfortable, we’ve addressed that,” she The Anton Savage Show on Newstalk.

Ms Barron said she would be in favour of mask wearing if it helped to stop the spread of Covid-19, but she said overcrowded classrooms are currently a big issue.

“We’re in unchartered territory here with masks and primary school children. I would be favourable if it stops the spread but we’re missing the really fundamental thing here - children are in overcrowded classrooms.

“We have been asking for ventilation, we’re hearing about a suite of measures. That suite of measures is simply hand sanitiser and then a ridiculously high cleaning bill to clean touch points throughout the day,” she said.

Ms Barron said on average there have been 105 pupils absent every day in her school of 303 pupils.

“We know the Delta variant is airborne and we have no filters, we cannot afford to put a filter in each classroom. The air needs to be made cleaner, we have to be able to close our windows, our children are freezing and our teachers are freezing. In my school this week I’ve 303 pupils, on average every day I’ve had 105 absent.

“Our reality is that Covid is spreading in our schools we can see it. We’re dealing with parents who are desperate and who have vulnerable family members at home,” she said.

Ms Barron believes that if antigen tests were given to schools they would be distributed faster to parents to administer at home.

“In schools and from second class down we don’t have pods as such but from third class up we are expected to have pods. But what happens is that a child tests positive and the parent contacts the principal, the principal then contacts the other parents in the pod as such and then we pass them on a phone number.

Sunday World Newsletter

Sign up for the latest news and updates

This field is required This field is required

“Those parents then have to contact the HSE and they have to give their name, address and their school role number and then the HSE will post out a set of five antigen tests with instructions on how to use them. I’d imagine parents will just get fed up and go and buy their own antigen tests,” she said.

She added: “If the HSE and the Department are not going to keep data so then data collection is not an issue to them then why not just give the antigen tests to schools. Parents do not have to do this, it’s only an option parents are not mandated they do not have to participate in antigen testing.”

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices