Mask-wearing continues in schools after Easter

School directors decry “incomprehensible gag”

School directors are incredulous following receipt of ‘orientation’ from the State-run DGS health authority insisting masks have to be worn in schools during the 3rd period (summer term).

“It is essential to continue to ensure conditions for the 2021/2022 academic year take place in an environment of safety and trust”, says the text received by schools, which also goes into the minutiae of PPE (protective apron and glove) wearing and washing.

“We cannot understand how masks are not required in bars and discotheques – where everything is left to faith and God – but in schools, which are safe places, it is obligatory to use a gag that is prejudicial to the learning process”, Filinto Lima, president of the national association of school directors told Rádio Renascença today.

The DGS orientation is ‘incomprehensible’ – even more so when incidence and deaths in Portugal are falling.

According to the latest reports, incidence of new infection “have not been this low since Christmas: in the week between the end of March and beginning of April there were 61,988 cases confirmed, 8,093 fewer than the week before”.

Yet health director Graça Freitas has stressed that “mortality has still not reached the level we have imposed – which is for deaths to drop to 20 per million inhabitants over 14 days”.

As so many remark, nothing is making sense in these rules as the deaths being recorded are invariably in elderly age-groups (which will have been fully-vaccinated), and these have negligible association with schools. 

It is unclear whether the school community will take a stand.

According to reports, anxiety over the prolonged use of mask-wearing has been exacerbated by unavoidable proof that masks are hampering pupils’ learning, causing mental health problems – and even in some situations seeing young people abandon education altogether.

In the former Portuguese colony of Macau, for example, deaf students have been leaving universities, because they can no longer lip read or cope with the barrier that masks create.

Here, SIC television news reports that “parents, teachers and pupils argue it is time to ease restrictions for the sake of mental health”.

DGS orientation is ‘one thing’; government decree another. For the time being, the government has imposed a State of Alert on the country, which comes up for renewal on April 18 (after Easter).

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com