Schools to reopen as planned on Thursday, Department of Education confirms

Some teachers’ unions have called for the Government to re-think its approach to the return of schools amid record cases.
Schools to reopen as planned on Thursday, Department of Education confirms

Dominic McGrath and James Ward, PA

Schools will reopen as planned on Thursday, the Department of Education has confirmed, following advice from public health officials.

It comes after health officials told the Government there is no “public health rationale to delay the reopening of schools”.

Some teachers’ unions called for the Government to re-think its approach to the return of schools, given the increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant.

The Department of Education, health officials, unions and school management bodies met on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the matter.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Tanaiste Leo Varadkar and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan also met to discuss and review the Covid-19 situation, amid record case numbers. Covid measures are also set to be discussed at a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

'Effective and appropriate' measures

A spokesperson for the Department of Education described the meeting with the unions and health officials as “productive”.

“Education stakeholders were briefed by the Minister and public health representatives on how the Covid-19 mitigation measures in place in schools have been reviewed by Public Health and will continue in place in the coming term,” the spokesperson said.

“Public health remains of the view that these mitigation measures are effective and appropriate.

“Furthermore, public health officials advised that there is no public health rationale to delay the reopening of schools later this week.

“Schools will operate in line with their Covid-19 response plans, which set out a range of mitigation measures for schools, including hand hygiene, mask-wearing, and social distancing.

“Schools have also been provided with guidance on maintaining good ventilation.”

The spokesperson said parents and students would receive guidance telling them “symptomatic students and household close contacts should not attend school”.

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