“We recognise that the mask is a factor of prevention and safety, but we had expectations that it would have already be possible to be in a school without a mask, taking into account the evolution of the disease”, the president of the National Confederation of Parents' Associations (Confap), Jorge Ascenção, told Lusa.

The new measures to ease restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic were released at the end of last week and came into effect over the weekend, but in the case of schools, the rules remained unchanged.

The use of a mask by employees and students from the age of 10 remains mandatory, which “harms socialisation among students and disrupts learning”, said Jorge Ascensão.

The impact on learning is also pointed out by teachers and representatives of school directors, pointing out that the mask creates a barrier in communication, dialogue, learning and development of children and young people.

“There is a loss for students, especially for the younger ones, because lip reading is essential for speaking and learning to write. We are all anxious and looking forward to the end of masks. But I am speaking as a specialist in education, I am not in the health area. If the technicians recommend its use, then we will have to wait”, said Manuel Pereira, president of the National Association of School Leaders (ANDE).

The president of the National Association of Directors of Groups and Public Schools (ANDAEP) also understands the Government's decision, "which was based on medical opinions that indicated that it was still not safe to drop the measure".

“There are constraints to the daily practice of teaching, not least because teachers use their voice, which is gagged by the mask,” Filinto Lima told Lusa.

“We hope that in the shortest possible time it will be possible to drop the use of masks in schools”, added the also director of the Dr. Costa Matos school group, in Vila Nova de Gaia.

Parents are the most critical, remembering other situations in which young people are together without masks, as is the case of nightlife spaces, where the mandatory use of a mask has disappeared.

“No one has yet been able to explain to me why young people wear a mask in schools, but then they go out and are all together without a mask, including in clubs”, criticized Jorge Ascenção.

Public health experts have argued that the use of a mask in educational establishments is a very effective way of protecting and transmitting the virus.