A Cork parent and City Councillor has admitted it was a shock to receive news of a confirmed Covid-19 case at his son’s school but that he was reassured by the response of both the school and the HSE.
It was revealed on Tuesday that a confirmed case of Covid-19 had been detected at a Coláiste Choilm secondary school in Ballincollig, which has a student population of around 1,400 students.
Parents of students at the school were informed on Tuesday afternoon that a confirmed case of coronavirus at the school was notified to the Department of Public Health in HSE South.
In an email to parents, Dr Anne Sheahan, consultant in public health, said that a risk assessment was carried out and that no child had been identified as a close contact of the Covid-19 case.
Local Cllr Colm Kelleher (FF) is on the board of management of the Gaelcholaiste and his son currently attends the secondary school.
Speaking to The Echo, Cllr Kelleher admitted it was a shock to get the email from the school.
“You turn on the news and read the newspapers and you hear of confirmed cases at schools in Cork or up the country,” he said.
“You think that’s really close to home but you don’t think it’ll happen in your school, so when it does you’re pretty taken aback.
“But I think the school and HSE reacted well, and the principals, vice principals and staff did well,” he added.
“The school is strictly following the HSE public health guidance and any decisions that will be taken will be taken by the HSE response team.
“It’s the 76th school in the state that has had a confirmed case but thankfully the HSE confirmed that there were no close contacts with the confirmed case.
“We don’t know if it’s a student or a member of staff but as a parent, I took reassurance from the fact the HSE confirmed there were no close contacts,” said Cllr Kelleher.
“That gave me peace of mind to drop my son back to school this morning, which I have done.
“The students have to wear masks all the time while in school. They also bring antibacterial wipes so that they can clean down desks and chairs after going into classrooms, and there is a one way system and strict social distancing in place in the school as well,” he added.
“It’s good to know public health guidelines are being adhered to.” Cllr Kelleher also appealed for any scaremongering or calls for the person to be identified to stop.
“As a concerned parent, I inquired for more information but, in line with HSE guidelines, they couldn’t give me any which is understandable and I actually took comfort in the fact that they’re adhering strictly to the guidelines,” he said.
“There were some people on social media calling for the person to be named, wondering what year group it was in, if it was a student or staff member, and that’s not helpful.
“We don’t need that scaremongering because it’s already a difficult enough situation for the person and their extended family,” he added.
A spokesperson for Cork Education and Training Board, patrons of the school, said:
“Cork ETB has been informed of a confirmed case of Covid-19 in the school.
“The school has, at all times, followed and implemented all Department of Education and Skills and HSE guidelines.
“No member of staff or student has been deemed to be a close contact of the confirmed case by the HSE,” she added.
In an email to parents, Dr Anne Sheahan said:
“If your child has not been identified as a close contact at this time, your child does not need a test for Covid-19, they can continue to attend school and no further actions are required at this time,” she explained.
“If your child develops any symptoms suggestive of Covid-19 infection, such as a cough, a fever, loss or change in sense of taste or smell, please do not send your child to school.
“Contact your GP and begin restricting your child’s movements,” she added.
“Restricted movement means avoiding contact with other people and social situations as much as possible.
“The Department of Public Health, HSE South is monitoring the school situation closely.” Coláiste Choilm is the fourth school in Cork to experience a confirmed case of Covid-19, and the first secondary school in the region.
On Sunday evening public health officials advised parents and guardians of more than 400 children attending Scoil Bhríde, Rathcormac that a case of Covid-19 had been identified.
Last week a case of the virus was confirmed at Scoil Bhríde Eglantine in Douglas and at Scoil Clíodhna in Carrigtwohill.
The virus has been detected in more than 70 schools across the country since schools reopened at the end of August.
Separately, Ballincollig hurling and football club have shut down for 24 hours due to a positive Covid-19 test.
The club contacted members on social media on Wednesday morning with the news, which means all training and games are on hold for now.
The Collig's senior footballers are due to face Nemo this Sunday in the Premier SFC quarter-final, while a host of underage teams have games lined up for the weekend in both codes. Advice from the HSE and County Board will dictate further developments.
The club explained: "As a precautionary measure all activity in Ballincollig Hurling and Football Club has been temporarily suspended from this morning, September 16.
"This is due to a club member testing positive for Covid-19. We will update club members of any developments in the next 24 hours.
"Please keep following public health guidance at all times and please respect the confidentiality of all involved.
"Thank you and stay safe."