Advice for mask-wearing in schools has been updated by the Department of Education.
It says children shouldn't be left out of class without principals trying to talk 'sensitively' to parents who object to their child wearing a mask.
In a document, the Department said, "where issues arise, schools will engage pragmatically and sensitively with parents to explore any particular difficulties arising for an individual child."
Last week, it said children in third class and above should be sent home for not having a medical reason for not wearing a mask.
For students who find it difficult to wear a mask, the Department of Education has now said, "schools will be best placed to identify those children whose complex needs are such that the wearing of face covering may not be possible for them, and to discuss this with parents as required."
While, if a child forgets or loses a mask, the Department says, "the school should have a sufficient supply to replace the mask for the child in case a back-up face covering."
There has been some criticism from the change in the guidance in recent days from members of the opposition.
"Last week, schools were given mere hours to prepare for the roll out of mask wearing in schools", said the Social Democrat's Education spokesperson Gary Gannon.
"The initial instructions, delivered as a dictate by the Minister, were that schools should exclude children who did not wear a mask unless those children had a cert from their GP. Predictably, GPs were not consulted before this advice was issued.
"Today, schools have finally received more conciliatory advice on this new policy. It sensibly states that children who do not wear masks should not be excluded in the first instance and that discussions must take place with parents and the department before this step is taken.
"The Minister has also now performed a screeching u-turn on Hepa filters, with €30 million in funding suddenly becoming available for their installation. The fact that this was only done after schools became ground zero in our fight against covid is something the Minister must answer for."