A Cork-based education leader has called on the Government to better communicate public health Covid-19 messages to students and parents.
Minister for Education Norma Foley announced that schools will not close early for Christmas nor will they reopen later after Christmas as there is no recommendation from public health authorities to do so.
The minister clarified the situation following a growing number of positive Covid-19 cases in schools nationwide. A department spokesperson outlined the plan for the coming weeks.
“Schools will close for the Christmas holidays on Tuesday 22 December and will remain closed until January 6,” she said. “These holiday periods have been fixed to allow parents and the school communities to plan ahead for basic work, childminding necessities, and any other family plans at this time of year.”
INTO president Mary Magner has called on the Government to launch a national public awareness campaign to better promote public health messages.
“We are calling on the Government to launch a national public awareness campaign to promote public health messages to parents and ensure that only those parents and pupils that abide by the public health advice return to our schools in January,” she said.
Ms Magner added that decisions about the opening or closing of schools should be informed by the latest public health advice.
“Public health is conducting an end-of-term review of the education sector,” she said. “It’s imperative that any decisions being made relating to the next school term take the prevailing rates of community infection into account, in three weeks’ time.
“The public health evidence shows that schools are safe places and that the risk of Covid-19 has been managed very well within the school environment.”
ASTI president Ann Piggott did not anticipate any change in the school timetable.
“The minister’s comments were exactly what I had expected,” she said.
“I didn’t expect the department to close schools before Christmas or after Christmas based on the way things have been going. It is comforting to hear that schools with big numbers of cases are being closed.”