Masks in the playground? How ‘recommended’ has morphed into mandatory…

Parents, schools, teachers, children – everyone is confused today by yet another ‘communications failing’ on the part of DGS health chiefs: yesterday the country heard health director Graça Freitas ‘recommend’ the continued use of masks by schoolchildren during their break times in outdoor parts of school property (click here). Today, reports confirm that rules enforcing the use of masks outdoors remain the same as they were last year.

In other words, the ‘gentle’ recommendation has changed nothing: children, vaccinated or otherwise, will still be expected to wear masks not only during the whole school day, but at break time in the playground as well.

Television stations this morning are describing “doubts” within school communities and “lamentations” over the lack of clarity.

While school directors are saying they have no choice but to comply with the rules issued for the safe functioning of this academic year, parents associations are saying ‘enough is enough’.

Jorge Ascenção, president of CONFAP (the national confederation of parents associations) told Diário de Notícias: “Decisions have to be explained clearly and properly. We have to understand what is at the bottom of them. There was so much pressure to vaccinate teenagers, and these decisions are not coherent. They do not make sense. We need to know clearly what the rules are”.

Mr Ascenção admitted to being “surprised” by Graça Freitas declarations, but insisted that he “trusts” the nation’s health authorities. 

Nonetheless: “being in the open air, and with youngsters practically all vaccinated, we would like the use of the mask to be unnecessary. We want to hear the reasoning for its necessity better explained… Youngsters need a rest from mask wearing. They need to be able to relax during break times… the use of masks in outdoors space will generate confusion”, he warned.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com