'This is a really critical time': Cork teachers say extra Covid protections needed 

The Into has called for the start of the schools pilot scheme for antigen testing. 
'This is a really critical time': Cork teachers say extra Covid protections needed 

The Into has called for the “immediate reintroduction” of public-health risk assessments, testing and contact tracing in primary schools.

A CORK primary school principal said teachers are anxious and want to feel safe at work as he backed Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (Into) calls for Covid-19 support in primary schools to be increased.

The Into has called for the “immediate reintroduction” of public-health risk assessments, testing and contact tracing in primary schools.

The call comes amid increasing concern about case numbers and after a primary school in Wexford said it was sending children home until after the midterm break as 34 students tested positive for the virus.

The Into has also called for the start of the schools pilot scheme for antigen testing, and an urgent review of the age restriction on use of face coverings.

Now to Christmas critical time

North Monastery Primary School principal Carl O’Brien said everybody wants to see schools continuing to stay open, but more support is needed.

“This is a really critical time. Between now and Christmas will tell a lot,” he said “I think that all parties should row in and support the boards of management of both primary and secondary schools to ensure that all supports that can be provided are given.

“We don’t want to see any more school closures. We want all safety procedures to be reinforced.”

His views were echoed by Ken Foley, principal of Scoil Padre Pio, Churchfield. “We need that extra bit of protection and peace of mind for both pupils and staff,” he said.

Mr Foley said his colleagues are worried by rising case numbers. 

“The numbers are rising. Teachers are anxious. 

"We would welcome all the measures suggested by the INTO. We just want to go in, feel safe and do our job.”

Union calls

The union said in a statement yesterday: “The INTO is calling into question the premature cessation of public-health risk assessments, testing and contact tracing in primary schools.

“This change in policy last month, which was challenged by this union, was informed by a view at the time that further relaxation of public-health measures was on the cards. That is now far from clear, with Dr Ronan Glynn and other leading public health experts openly raising alarm in recent days.”

The union said current infection control and prevention measures must remain in place beyond Halloween. It also wants the supply panel scheme expanded to cover all primary and special schools and to reinstate substitute sequencing.

The union also raised concerns about children being sent to school despite showing symptoms of Covid-19.

“The INTO yet again exhorts the Government to commence a public awareness campaign designed to ensure that those with Covid-19 symptoms do not attend schools,” the union said. “There is anecdotal evidence from members on the ground that symptomatic children continue to attend schools.”

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