***Editor’s Note: This story was updated at 6pm Friday to reflect updated guidelines removing the minimum age for mask-wearing. The Ministry clarified it would be guided by Public Health on this issue.***
The Ministry of Education’s COVID-19 guidance details a number of mandatory measures to be taken in schools, pending ‘activation’ by the Ministry or public health officials.
The document, which has been published online, would call for all school staff and students to wear masks. Exceptions to the mask mandate are for children “who are unable to put on or remove a mask without the assistance of another person”.
The ‘mandatory guidance’ is not yet in effect in Cayman. According to the document, “In addition to the precautionary health and safety measures, educational institutions may be required to enhance health and safety protocols. Activation of the mandatory guidance will be given by the Ministry of Education or Public Health.”
Other mandatory measures include maintaining at least 3 feet of social distancing “where possible” between people in schools, and implementing curbside drop-off and pick-up of students.
Currently, all students 5 and over must wear masks on school buses. That would remain when and if the mandatory measures are implemented.
The Ministry does not recommend a minimum age for mask-wearing by students. A spokesperson said Friday the Ministry would be guided by Public Health on this matter.
Age guidelines on mask-wearing vary in different jurisdictions.
For example, the World Health Organisation recommends that children ages 5 and under should not be required to wear masks. “This is based on the safety and overall interest of the child and the capacity to appropriately use a mask with minimal assistance,” according to the WHO website.
WHO outlines different factors to consider when determining if children ages 6-11 should be required to wear masks, including the local prevalence of COVID and impacts on learning.
According to the BBC, here are the ages for mandatory masking in the UK:
- Under 11 in England or Wales
- Under 13 in Northern Ireland
- Under 5 in Scotland.
Read the Ministry’s guidance document (updated Friday):
***Update, 11am Friday**
The Ministry of Education issued a press release in relation to the publishing of the COVID-19 guidance. Here is the text of the press release:
The Ministry of Education (MoE), in collaboration with the Department of Education Services (DES) on Tuesday (14 September), issued COVID 19 Guidance for Educational Institutions.
The document, which applies to all educational institutions, provides educators with direction regarding the implementation of several key safety measures, including social distancing and cleaning amidst the community spread of the COVID-19 virus.
“The health and safety of our children and educators is our utmost priority,” Minister for Education the Honourable Juliana O’Connor-Connolly stated. “This document is aimed at supporting our local educational institutions as they maintain a safe and positive learning environment for our children and aid schools’ preparation for the transition to remote learning should the need arise.”
MoE Chief Officer Ms. Cetonya Cacho added, “As we move forward, the Ministry will also continue to be guided by our local Public Health experts and inform the public of any new developments to ensure the continued health and safety of our children and educators.”
To learn more or download the COVID 19 Guidance for Educational Institutions, visit exploregov.ky/coronavirus-education.