Teachers are calling for medical-grade masks to be provided to all staff ahead of schools reopening on April 12.
Members of the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) said there are concerns about returning to the classroom given the situation in the country at present and the emergence of new strains of Covid-19.
Delegate Anthony Dowling, of the Dun Laoghaire branch, told the annual TUI conference it is unacceptable for teachers to have to bring their own masks to work every day.
“Many are working in overcrowded classes with poor ventilation and inadequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for members. We have no access to masks. We must bring our own masks to work every day, whether they are the right quality or not we don’t know.
“In light of the new strands of Covid and the situation in the country at present, congress calls on the executive to demand that teachers will be provided with the highest level of protection on the full reopening of schools and centres of education.
"We call on the executive to demand that teachers are provided with full medical grade masks and that only rooms that are adequately and properly ventilated will be used in the full reopening of schools and centres of education.”
Delegate Aisling Bolger said the fact teachers aren’t being provided with masks “is an absolute disgrace”.
She alluded to how some countries in Europe - such as Austria - now require medical-grade masks in public.
Medical-grade FFP2 face masks are mandatory in Austria for people aged over 14 in shops and businesses, pharmacies, hospitals and on public transport.
These masks are more tight-fitting than cloth masks and create a seal around the face and filters the inflow and outflow of air.
The TUI passed the emergency motion on Wednesday afternoon.