Mask mandate confusion: Your kid still needs to wear a mask in school - for now

Pupils line up to get a temperature check at Monde Primary School in Ekhuruleni.
Pupils line up to get a temperature check at Monde Primary School in Ekhuruleni.
PHOTO: Gallo Images/Laird Forbes
  • Interim regulations published in the government gazette do not exempt children from wearing masks at school.
  • But a health department statement indicated that children would not be required to wear masks indoors.
  • The department announced the interim regulations late on Wednesday night.

A Department of Health statement that schoolchildren are exempt from complying with regulations related to the wearing of face masks, has created much confusion.

READ | Masks to stay as govt announces limited Covid-19 regulations before current ones expire

In the statement on Wednesday night, the department said that, in terms of interim regulations published in the government gazette on Wednesday, face masks must be worn in all indoor public places.

But it added:

This does not apply to children at school.

"With regards to wearing a face mask, a person must, when entering and being inside an indoor public place, wear a face mask. This does not apply to children at school. Again, under these limited regulations, no person may use any form of public transport unless wearing a face mask," the department's statement read.

The gazette, however, did not contain any clauses to indicate such an exemption.

Instead, it contained a subsection that stated that all basic education institutions were exempt from complying with regulations related to indoor gatherings.

Department of Basic Education spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said the health department would need to provide clarity on the regulations. Until then, he said, the department will follow the gazetted regulations.

News24 contacted the Department of Health for clarity, but it did not respond at the time of publication.

After the national state of disaster fell away last month, schools were exempt from a number of regulations, including the screening of staff and pupils, and the reporting of positive cases to health and education authorities.

Pupils and staff were permitted to remove masks in open spaces and were not required to implement one-metre physical distancing, but they were required to wear masks indoors.

Only children under the age of six years are not required to wear masks.

The country is experiencing an increase in Covid-19 infections, and many of the positive cases have been recorded in the 10 to 14-year age group.

If you come across Covid-19 vaccination information that you do not trust, read Covid-19 vaccine myths debunked: Get the facts here. If you can't find the facts you're looking for, email us at the address mentioned in the article and we will verify the information with medical professionals.

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