Minister ‘hopeful’ for mask-free schools soon


EDUCATION Minister Glenys Hanna Martin is “hopeful” that the mask mandate will be lifted in classrooms soon, noting she was aware conditions are not ideal.

As of Saturday, the country’s mask mandate was largely relaxed with the exception of those accessing healthcare facilities, visiting senior care homes or in an indoor classroom setting. The adjustments to the mask mandate were recommended by the advisory committee at the Ministry of Health and Wellness.

Mrs Hanna Martin said that with the assistance of   Health Minister Dr Michael Darville, plans to further relax mask measures are in the works.

 “I have spoken to the minister of health about it, of course we are very empathetic for the situation of students and teachers in the classroom, which already have conditions which are not so ideal,” she told reporters yesterday.

The education minister said the minister of health has assured her that officials are monitoring the matter and when it is deemed appropriate, it will be lifted.

 “I understand their concern and I have raised that with the minister of health and he has raised it with their team,” she said.

 “We are awaiting modification of these rules. It’s a serious situation and I’m just trusting that very soon the students in the classroom will be freed of wearing masks during learning time.”

 She also emphasised that when students are outdoors, masks are not required, therefore it should provide some level of relief.

 Last month, acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Phillip Swann explained why officials recommended that masks still be worn in healthcare facilities, senior care homes and classroom settings.

 “In healthcare facilities, healthcare workers and system users are to maintain the use of masks at all times to ensure that the vulnerable are protected. This has been the case in most healthcare settings prior to COVID and persons with a cough when provided with a mask or isolated from other persons and spaces in a clinic setting or health setting,” Dr Swann said.

 “In education institutions, the mask mandate for school or education institutions was also retained for in class settings and these are some of the reasons why we maintained that posture.”

 According to Dr Swann, vaccination levels among school aged children are amongst the lowest, however officials are making final arrangements to facilitate the administration of paediatric vaccines in schools to help increase vaccinations among children.