A Co Kildare mother and Intensive Care Nurse says that wearing masks and social distancing for the reopening of creches, primary and secondary schools will have a 'detrimental effect' on Irish children.
Having children and teenagers social distancing, wearing personal protective equipment and for the under sixes, being expected to stay in pods, is 'not practical', says Naas ICU nurse, Hannah Clancy, and mother of four young children.
She is calling for a better system of childcare to be announced for the country's children. Both her and her husband are frontline workers, and no childcare is available for them under the Government.
Ms Clancy says that in January Naas Hospital was making preparations for a possible pandemic and ensuring that personal protective equipment was being sourced, and made available, for staff, if the need arose.
INTO has called, over recent weeks, for formal engagement with the Department of Education and Skills (DES) on the practical solutions which will be needed to safely reopen schools in September, in line with public health advice.
According to a INTO submission, calls for guidance on the use and need, if any, of personal protective equipment for staff is being examined. An INTO statement referring to personal protective equipment in schools said: "Any such equipment must be procured centrally and supplied in sufficient quantities by the HSE/DES to schools in advance of need."
She says that wearing masks and personal protective equipment is difficult enough for frontline healthcare workers like herself and she doesn't think children should have to wear them, adding that children are not showing symptoms of coronavirus or Covid-19.
Ms Clancy said: "Masks would be pointless for children, they would be at an increased risk of cross contamination. The proper use of a mask involves not touching it, masks are very uncomfortable to work with, and would be uncomfortable for children. My mind could get foggy over after a few hours of wearing a mask, I find that with a mask on I am sneezing a lot and my airways get dried up."
Along with the health risks associated with wearing masks for both teachers and students in schools, and childcare settings, Ms Clancy fears that the wearing of masks along with social distancing, as advised by the HSE and Government, could cause 'psychological difficulties' in an educational setting.
She says that masks can 'restrict speech.'
Ms Clancy said: "You can't make out what someone is saying, it is giving children a warped opinion of what is normal etiquette, my children observe social distancing when out, but in a classroom setting, this could be very difficult."
According to healthcare workers, it is feared that two more surges will be experienced in Ireland of the coronavirus, between now and November.