PARENTS and staff at Gaelscoil Uí Drisceoil in Glanmire have called on Taoiseach Micheál Martin to change how information on cases of Covid-19 are communicated within school communities, following an outbreak of the virus at the school.
One family has shared their “horrendous” experience with the virus and school principal Siobhán Ní Chatháin has highlighted anxiety among staff and families.
Some 17 Covid-19 cases were identified at the school, resulting in a two-week closure. There have been a total of 47 Covid-19 cases identified from the initial outbreak, including parents and family members of staff and students, according to the principal.
Catherine and Steve Manson and their three children caught Covid-19 following the outbreak at the school, which two of their children attend.
Catherine spent a week in hospital following a clot in her lung and pneumonia as a result of the virus.
“The whole thing has just been horrendous,” she said.
“I have no underlying health conditions, so it has just come all of a sudden. The impact this has had on our family, and it has been three and a half weeks now, it’s been huge. I wouldn’t wish it upon another family.”
“It’s really mis-sold as a flu and it certainly isn’t the flu,” Steve said. “It’s absolutely appalling.”
Staff and parents at the school have been campaigning for information on confirmed Covid-19 cases to be immediately shared with school principals in order to help control the spread in schools.
“I had to ring the school on the Sunday night myself when I found out that we were positive and if I hadn’t phoned the school that night, everybody else would have gone into school on the Monday morning, in the pod,” Catherine said.
Mr Martin yesterday admitted he was concerned with what transpired at the school.
“I have spoken to the principal in relation to that and I have concerns about what happened there. I will be talking to public health officials in relation to that and I’ve also spoken to the attorney general and to the Minister for Health,” he said.
“Obviously there are challenges with how public health deals with different cases in different contexts and also with a view of trying to preserve confidentiality for families. But, there are lessons to be learned from what happened in Glanmire on all fronts. I’ll certainly be having discussions with the authorities in relation to what happened there.”
With the school reopening today, Ms Ní Chatháin, the principal, is calling for changes to be put in place.
“There is a sense of great disappointment that there has been nothing — no assurance has been given that there will be change,” she said.
“We have great faith in Micheál Martin. He has to show us now. The ball is in his court, he can do this.”
Ms Ní Chatháin said three staff members who contracted Covid are not well enough to return. She also highlighted the anxiety among many parents and family ahead of reopening.
“They are very nervous. It’s two weeks to Christmas. They all have family members, grandparents they want to see at Christmas, so they are nervous about that as well.”
The Mansons commended Gaelscoil Uí Drisceoil for how closely it followed public health guidelines but said current restrictions and delays in informing the principal make it very difficult to control spreads.