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Cork teacher in isolation; School remains open with 'heightened sense of hygiene'

A secondary school teacher in Cork is in self-isolation after coming in close contact with a Covid-19 case.

But Colaiste Chríost Rí said the school remains open but with a “heightened sense of hygiene”.

In a statement to parents today, the school said it has been informed that one of its teachers has been placed in self-isolation for 14-days after they came in close contact with someone who has since tested positive for Covid-19.

“The teacher involved has informed the school that he has not tested positive for the virus,” the school said.

“We have been in contact with HSE helpline and their advice is that the school should continue in as normal a fashion as possible with a heightened sense of hygiene.

“We have received no instruction from the HSE to close the school but we reiterate that if your son is exhibiting symptoms he should stay at home.

We have been asked to monitor the situation and anyone exhibiting symptoms will be asked to go home and contact his GP as soon as possible as per HSE advice.

Meanwhile, the Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan has written to schools advising that any responses to the outbreak of Covid-19 remains "proportionate, necessary and based on specific public health advice".

"No other response is appropriate," he said.

"Given that Covid-19 is a new disease, it is understandable that its emergence may give rise to anxiety and fear. These factors can also give rise to harmful stereotypes.

"Please be assured that public health professionals will contact you if there is any action to be taken in relation to your school and students. You should not take unilateral action."

Dr Holohan's letter was sent in the wake of social media reports about widespread school closures, which were debunked by the Department.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has since reiterated the stance that there is currently no plan to announce mass school closures and the situation will be reviewed frequently.

"It could happen. What is going to happen is the Minister for Education is planning to meet all involved in the sector, representative bodies, so everybody is aware of what is happening and if we do get to a decision that we are advised that this necessary on public health grounds," he said.

The Department has warned schools to ensure contact details for parents are up to date and to ensure these details can be shared with health authorities for contact tracing if required.

"We must continue to focus on ensuring that everyone is informed and knows what to do in the event they develop symptoms," Dr Holohan said.

The Department of Education and Skills has also contacted schools with advice on how to talk to children and young people about coronavirus.

They need factual, age-appropriate information about the virus and concrete instructions about how to avoid spreading it, the Department said.

Older children may need help to separate reality from rumour and fantasy, the letter said.