A new schools' antigen test helpline received more than 7,000 requests for test kits to be dispatched in its first day of operation.
Under the new programme, which came into operation today, antigen tests will be made available to the children in a primary school pod, where a child in the pod has had a PCR test that detected Covid-19.
Where two or more confirmed cases of Covid-19 occur in a class, within a seven day period, outside of a single pod, antigen testing will be offered to the full class.
Parents or guardians are being asked to contact their child's school principal immediately if they receive a Covid-19 positive test result for their child.
The principal will then contact the parents of other children in their child's 'pod', and parents can then request an antigen test kit from the HSE.
The tests will be carried out by parents or guardians at home.
Speaking after the first day of operation of the new programme, principal of Scoil Padre Pio in Churchfield, Ken Foley said the use of antigen testing will provide ‘reassurance’ for both parents and staff members and will help keep ‘Covid at bay’.
“Antigen testing in schools will help. It is great to have it up and running. The whole idea and the concept of it is very good and it will definitely help towards keeping Covid at bay in the school. It is reassuring for all the staff members and the families. Once it gets up and running it will be a big success,” he said.
The primary school principal however expects teething problems dealing with possible cases in the junior section as antigen testing is bedded down in primary schools nationwide.
“There will be a few teething problems with the junior end of the school because they are playing together, moving from table to table and it is impossible to keep them in pods. The junior element doesn’t work in pods. If we have a case in one of the junior classes you really have to contact the entire parent body. We have informed the Department of Education about that so that is an issue."
He said that managing the logistics will also be an issue.
"If there are isolated cases in school, you can send out the letter to parents, but if loads of cases come in together you are trying to manage the logistics of this. You really have to keep close tabs on the whole situation,” he added.