Close contact tracing to end in creches and primary schools

Close contact tracing to end in creches and primary schools

From September 27, automatic contact tracing of close contacts in creches and primary schools will be discontinued, the minister confirmed.

Automatic contact tracing of close contacts in primary schools and creches will cease in the coming days.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly on Wednesday announced a major overhaul of public health advice in Irish education settings.

Thousands of pupils have been forced to stay at home since the return of schools this month after being identified as close contacts of a confirmed Covid-19 case.

From September 27, automatic contact tracing of close contacts in creches and primary schools will be discontinued, the minister confirmed.

Testing of close contacts without symptoms in creches and primary schools will also end.

Both of these measures, Mr Donnelly said, will not apply to special schools.

Children not required to stay home 

As part of the changes, children aged 12 and under will no longer be required to stay at home and restrict movements if they are identified as close contacts in a school or non-household setting if they do not show any symptoms.

However, children will be required to stay at home if someone in their household tests positive for Covid-19 and they are deemed a close contact.

The changes to the guidance come following discussions between the Department of Health and the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet).

Any children who do show symptoms of Covid-19 should still self-isolate, according to public health advice.

Mr Donnelly said: “The latest data indicates that schools continue to be a low-risk environment for transmission of Covid-19.

“If you have any concerns or notice symptoms in members of your family, the public health advice remains to self-isolate and arrange a test as soon as possible. 

"You should not attend school, or work or socialise.” 

Differing advice 

On Tuesday, Education Minister Norma Foley faced questions about what some TDs said was differing HSE and Department of Education advice on when pupils should stay at home.

Ms Foley rejected suggestions that the Government was “complacent” over the reopening of schools this month.

She insisted the messaging and guidance was clear, as members of the Oireachtas Education Committee called for clarity.

“There is no confusion in the information that is being disseminated to parents and to school leaders,” she said.

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