Video: New school mask advice, Storm Barra preparations, college antigen tests

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New school mask advice

The Department of Education has issued new advice to schools which stresses that children in third class and above should not be excluded from schools “in the first instance” for not wearing masks.

As reported in The Irish Times, schools should engage with parents and then, if no progress is made, an inspector from the Department of Education will be contacted.

According to the new guidance, if a school agrees with a parent that a mask is not appropriate for the child, then no medical certification for exemption is needed.

The guidance has been issued to change previous rules that unmasked pupils in third class and upwards will be refused entry to their school if they do not have a medical certificate for proof of exemption.

Students who have breathing difficulties or other relevant medical conditions are exempt from wearing masks. A student who is unable to remove their mask without help is also exempt, as well as children with special needs or those with intellectual or developmental disabilities, mental health conditions, sensory concerns or tactile sensitivity.

Storm Barra

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Crisis management teams will finalise plans today ahead of the arrival of Storm Barra.

Strong winds, storm surges and power outages are expected in parts of the west and south through tomorrow.

A Status Orange Wind Warning takes effect from 6am for Clare, Cork, Kerry, Limerick and Galway, and is due to last 24 hours.

Alan O'Reilly from Carlow Weather says it's going to be quite serious.

Mr O'Reilly told Newstalk: "Unfortunately it's a bit of a perfect storm in terms of the timing, spring tides, strongest winds during the middle of the day, heavy rain as well. Those on the west and south west coast really need to avoid coastal areas. There is the likelihood of gusts of 130 miles per hour, but there may even be gusts in excess of 130 miles per hour along the coast."

Free antigen tests available for college students

Third level institutions will be handing out free antigen tests for staff and students.

Under a new €9 million scheme, colleges can apply for funding to purchase the tests.

The Minister for Higher Eduction met Professor Mary Horgan, chair of the Government’s expert group on antigen testing, as well as public health consultant and National Public Health Emergency Team member Dr Breda Smyth on Friday to discuss the new scheme.

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Simon Harris says it's in response to students asking for help with the cost of self-testing.

“I have met with the experts who see benefit in expanding use and I have heard from students who have asked for assistance with the cost. I am responding to this with a €9 million fund which will be available for all colleges in Ireland to draw down from to provide free antigen tests on college campuses,” Mr Harris said.

Capacity restriction for events the 'worst case scenario'

The co-founder of the Event Industry Association of Ireland, Elaine O'Connor has described the 50 per cent capacity restriction for events as the “worst case scenario.”

It has been a "very long" year and a half for the sector which had been hoping for “some sort of progress,” she told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.

“We're now in what I would describe as our worst scenario. We're at our lowest ebb now.”

Ms O’Connor added that while her association was grateful to be invited to today’s meeting between industry representatives and the Taoiseach and Tánaiste, they needed more.

“We need attention, we need our own meeting with these ministers that focus specifically on our industry and the challenges that it faces.”

Ms O'Connor acknowledged that they had received some supports, but said that they had been very focused on sectors of the industry that “maybe suit Government departments more than the industry.”

 

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