MOE: Not necessary for masks in school
Students are allowed to wear masks in school if they want to, due to the haze situation, the Ministry of Education (MOE) assured parents yesterday, even as many debated whether there was a need to.
Even so, wearing an N95 mask is not necessary with the measures in place, MOE said.
This comes after a parent posted on Facebook on Monday that her daughter's primary school allegedly did not allow pupils to wear an N95 mask in school.
Replying to queries from The Straits Times, an MOE spokesman said that all classrooms of primary and secondary schools, MOE kindergartens, and special education schools are equipped with air purifiers to ensure students' well- being when the haze worsens here.
When the air quality hits the very unhealthy range, or when required, schools will close the doors and windows of classrooms and turn on the air purifiers.
"Therefore, masks are not necessary, even for examinations which are all conducted in enclosed indoor spaces with air purifiers," the spokesman added.
"Nonetheless, if parents and their children feel more comfortable, our students are welcome to use masks in school."
Noting that there was currently no international certification standards for the use of masks on children, MOE said that N95 masks would not be required for short-term exposure, like commuting from home to school, or when students are in an indoor environment, such as classrooms.
"The key precaution for children to take during the haze is to minimise prolonged or strenuous outdoor physical exertion when the forecast air quality is in the unhealthy range, and to avoid outdoor activity when the forecast air quality is in the very unhealthy range," said the spokesman.
A 24-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) reading of 101 to 200 is in the unhealthy range. A reading of 201 to 300 is in the very unhealthy band.
The principal of the school highlighted in the Monday Facebook post said the school always allows face masks when there is haze or when pupils feel unwell.
At no point did any of the teachers inform pupils that they were not allowed to wear face masks in schools, he said, adding: "We will also share this information with all our (pupils') parents to reassure them."
Parents had differing views about their children wearing masks in school.
On the Facebook post, user Cherie Tan asked if parents are being overprotective of their children and pointed out that PSI levels were not in the very unhealthy range.