ANOTHER DAMNING REVIEW OF EVIDENCE AROUND MASKING HEALTHY PEOPLE: HIQA Conclusion: 'National and international public health guidance on the use of face masks is based on low certainty direct evidence of clinical effectiveness, indirect evidence that supports plausibility of effectiveness… Further research is urgently required, particularly high quality studies that provide direct evidence on the use of face masks by healthy people in the community. The WHO has urged countries that have recommended the wearing of face masks by healthy people in community settings to ‘conduct research on this important topic’.Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) Report: Evidence summary for face mask use by healthy people in the community 21 August 2020, page 25, pdf available here: https://www.hiqa.ie/sites/default/files/2020-08/Evidence-summary-face-masks-in-the-community.pdf
The above is yet another official review of the quality of evidence around masking healthy people in the community, yet public policy remains the same. The report states that there is no reference to a risk/benefit analysis of mask safety in any of the 19 studies which are widely referenced as proof for mask effectiveness..
Here are a few additional extracts from the above report which you might consider citing in correspondence with any of the below: Extracts from Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) Report: Evidence summary for face mask use by healthy people in the community 21 August 2020.
Seeking a Face Covering Exemption for Your Secondary Student
Face covering exemptions are clearly provided for both in the legislation and specifically within schools through Dept of Education guidance (read excerpts here: Excerpts from Roadmap for the Full Return to School). However, what we’re hearing from parents is that it has been left up to a negotiation between individual parents and schools to officially be granted an exemption for their children. As a result, a great deal of variation has been seen between approaches in schools and likewise the degree of ease with which parents have been able to send their children to school, free to breathe.
We have received a great deal of feedback from parents telling us what approaches for securing face covering exemptions have worked best for them. In this section, we have put their input together with information on what options and guidance is available in terms of this process. All information is provided for information purposes only to assist you and is not legal advice.
It should be noted that the Roadmap for the Full Return to School mentions that, 'Staff or students who cannot wear face coverings or visors for health reasons should be based in other classrooms or areas wherever possible.' We urge parents to confirm what the school's plan would be for facilitating your child when the exemption is granted and ensure it is one you are happy with. If not, further negotiations could take place or you could progress further through the below stages.
We believe that the relationship between families and schools is an essential one and therefore feel this first specified step-by-step process be attempted initially. If an impasse should be reached, please see next stages in how you may take your complaint further. Be sure to document all communication, follow up any phone conversations and in-person meetings with a written summary asking that they confirm what was discussed/ decided.
IMPORTANT: Please be sure to review Stage 6 no matter what steps you decide to follow or how easy or difficult you find the process to be. This stage outlines providing feedback to government departments, ministers and groups. This feedback can be invaluable to their understanding of the impacts of policy and mandates, particularly in the area of face covering exemptions. This stage is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT, as it will serve to alert them to issues and provide them with valuable, real-life scenarios.
Resource: Excerpts from Roadmap for the Full Return to School
Stages for Seeking Face Covering Exemptions for Secondary School Students
Steps within your school
Escalate your complaint
Contact the Irish Human Rights & Equality Commission
When: Contact any time for advice and assistance.
See Stage 3 for details.
File a Complaint with the Ombudsman for Children
When: First follow steps above within the school and escalate to the Ombudsman if necessary.
See Stage 4 for details.
File a Complaint with the Workplace Relations Commission
When: First follow steps above within the school and escalate to the Commission if necessary.
See Stage 5 for details.
We hope this information and the shared experiences of many other parents in the same situation of seeking face covering exemptions prove helpful to you.
Please consider also sharing your story with us by emailing it to us: firstname.lastname@example.org
We are unable to provide legal advice but if you’d like us to help you find an experienced solicitor in this area of law, please contact us: email@example.com.
Best of luck with your exemption and we hope your child soon attends school free to breathe!
Your experience could help to create change and inform future decisions!
Important Note: Nothing presented constitutes legal advice, this is for information purposes only. If you need legal support please contact a solicitor to talk about your individual case.