STUDENTS and teachers in secondary schools have been advised to wear face masks by the Department of Education.
In a statement, the department said face coverings should be worn when a physical distance of two metres cannot be maintained.
The department also said that schools have been given a Covid-19 payment which will help with enhanced cleaning regimes.
This is intended to allow for an extra four to six hours cleaning per day in schools.
The latest guidance follows calls from teaching unions to clarify the Department of Education’s stance on the wearing of masks in classrooms and schools.
All students at post-primary level, apart from specific exemptions, will be required to wear face coverings in the classroom, according to the new guidelines from the HSE’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC).
Staff, including teachers at both primary and post-primary levels, who cannot maintain a 2-metre distance from students or other staff will also be required to wear face coverings.
All staff and students using the post-primary transport service will also be required to wear face coverings on the bus.
All SNAs will also be required to wear face coverings, or in certain situations clear visors, in the classroom.
Other staff who have close contact with students will be required to wear face coverings, for example, bus escorts.
INTO General Secretary John Boyle welcomed the decision to introduce face masks in schools.
“We welcome today’s announcement from the Department of Education that teachers who are unable to maintain two metres social distancing in their classrooms are advised to wear face masks or visors as appropriate.
"Schools will have the option of ordering face coverings centrally on the newly established government procurement portal.”
The Minister for Education Norma Foley, along with Taoiseach Micheál Martin TD and Minister for Special Education and Inclusion Josepha Madigan TD, last week published a detailed plan ‘Reopening Our Schools: The Roadmap for The Full Return to School’, along with details of a financial package of over €375 million to support its delivery.
In addition, the minister said funding had been made available for schools to hire aides to help reconfigure classrooms and install hand sanitising stations.
Guidance has also been circulated to schools detailing how they can best access PPE and hand sanitiser supplies.