COVID19: Parent support for masks in primary schools

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The majority of parents appear to be on board with health experts’ proposal for all school children aged six and above to wear a mask in the classroom.

Annita Taliotou, acting president of the Federation of Parents Associations of Primary Education, told the Cyprus News Agency that parents would not oppose such a measure should scientists find it necessary.

Parents will meet Education Ministry representatives on Tuesday “to come to a mutual understanding that would be in the best interest of all sides involved,” said Taliotou.

Currently, face masks in primary schools are optional, with only a small number of children wearing them in class.

Mask-wearing is compulsory in secondary schools.

Taliotou called on parents to permit their children to get tested at mobile units sent by the Health Ministry to schools.

She said it would be a good idea for parents to advise their children to wear a mask at school.

In separate comments to Phileleftheros daily, Taliotou said the Federation in September “had reached the position that the use of a mask and testing should be optional for primary school students.

“However, the epidemiological data is different today”.

But some parents are against imposing mask-wearing at primary schools.

“We know the World Health Organisation’s stance that children under the age of 12 are not required to wear one. So we need to discuss between us,” Taliotou said.

Meanwhile, a vocal minority, the “United Parents of Cyprus”, have raised their disagreement in a letter to the Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas and head scientists advising the government, Dr Constantinos Tsioutis.

The United Parents of Cyprus evoke scientific studies, which they claim prove that mask-wearing is inappropriate for children and negatively affects their health.

The group said they were willing to pressure parents’ associations to take to the streets against making masks obligatory for children.

Education Minister Prodromos Prodromou said that authorities would be following the advice of experts.

“Schools are not fortified against the virus. At the moment, only teachers are vaccinated. Children do not wear masks, nor do they take regular tests,” said Prodromou.

“To prevent a new outbreak, and not to come to the point where we will need to resort to remote learning.

“We did this once, twice, and it has proven to create psychological and social issues.”