The principal of a Cork primary school says a protest at the school gates 'absolutely should not have happened'.
Pupils at Bunscoil Rinn an Chabhlaigh were met by anti-mask demonstrators as they left school on Tuesday.
Leaflets were also handed out to parents waiting to collect their children in Cobh.
The school has some 700 children and a staff of 80.
Principal Sinéad Flannery told Lunchtime Live the demonstration started off peacefully.
"It was after 2 o'clock when I noticed the protestors were outside the main school gate.
"They appeared quite peaceful and they had their placards. There would have been about 10 or more of them.
"They asked me if I had a risk assessment and I said 'Yes' - it was on our website, along with our COVID response plan - as well as the other advice that we have shared with parents."
Ms Flannery says this was a planned demonstration, as protestors were "at all our exit points".
This is the leaflet that was handed to parents and children at a demonstration outside a primary school in Cobh, Co Cork yesterday@andreagilligan hears from parents & teachers #LunchtimeLiveNT pic.twitter.com/djysPJfL5E
— Lunchtime Live (@LunchtimeLiveNT) February 16, 2022
"They approached, quite forcefully, with their leaflets to awaiting cars that were waiting on their children.
"We also would have had about eight school taxis that come to our school that would escort the children with special educational needs.
"And those parents could not get access to their children."
'It posed a serious danger'
She says some children got distracted and walked on to the road.
"Because the protestors were handing out their leaflets it caused the children to stop and stare at the placards, and looking at the leaflets and wondering what this was about.
"It caused children to actually go on to the road, it's a narrow enough footpath outside.
"It definitely posed a serious danger - and a lot of the children were upset, and the parents couldn't get access to their children".
Ms Flannery says she and other staff members moved to reassure the distressed children.
"It caused an awful lot of upset, I received a number of e-mails last night from parents letting us know that the children were very worried.
"These are young children, these are young primary school children - and some of those children were actually frightened to come to school today.
"We were actually in the middle of Wellness Week: we started yesterday morning off on such a positive note here.
"We wanted the children to go home with positive thoughts... instead their day culminated in children crying and upset".
And she says schools are not the place for this.
"It started off quite peaceful... Towards the end, certainly one or two of the protestors were definitely raising their voice.
"Everyone is entitled to protest, and obviously they have that right.
"But I would feel very strongly that absolutely that should not have happened at a primary school gate.
"Any grievances they have certainly is not with the board of our school, or any school decision or staff member".