The Minister for Education has reaffirmed her commitment to keep schools open following the NPHET recommendation and subsequent Government decision to move to Level 5 of the Living with Covid plan.
Minister Norma Foley said that a significant factor in the decision to move to Level 5 was that by doing so schools could be supported to continue to operate safely and sustainably during the pandemic.
“The decision recognises the overwhelming evidence from our public health experts, that schools are a safe environment for our school communities, children and staff members.
“Our school communities have put enormous effort and energy into re-opening our schools and keeping them safe over the first half of this term. Transmission rates of Covid-19 in schools are low, much lower than the rate currently in the community. This is a result of the effectiveness of the public health guidelines for schools and the successful implementation and adherence of all in the school community to the guidelines.
“Schools have been supported in this by significant investment to support all infection prevention and control measures recommended by the public health authorities,” she said.
The Minister said that ensuring children can continue to attend school safely is a key objective for the Government.
“The Department of Education and Skills has been meeting regularly with the education partners including management bodies, teachers’ unions and representatives of the school communities, to provide them with up to date information and to offer an opportunity to discuss any concerns which they may have,” she said.
The Minister thanked the people responsible in school communities for working hard to implement and keep to the guidelines.
“This work is paying off, and I urge everyone to remain vigilant,” she said.
Minister Foley added: “At the end of this week, schools will close for one week. There is an opportunity for everyone to have a well-deserved break.
“When schools return on Monday 2 November, I urge everyone to continue to comply fully with the measures in place, knowing that we all have a real role to play in suppressing the virus and keeping it safe for children to attend school. Our schools are playing their part and working hard to stay safe. They need the support of us all. Stay safe: reduce your social contacts, stay distant, wash your hands.”