Covid-19: School closures a matter for health experts, says Minister

Schools to be helped in the event of an outbreak where testing would take place – Foley

The Minister also said that the progress of children on their return to school would be monitored. File photograph: The Irish Times

The Minister also said that the progress of children on their return to school would be monitored. File photograph: The Irish Times

 

Any decision on school closures due to a coronavirus outbreak will be determined by public health experts, according to Minister for Education Norma Foley.

No school community or management would have to make such a decision, she told RTÉ radio today. There is now a “burden of responsibility” on society “to do what needs to be done” to allow for a full reopening of schools and that is why priority had been given to education, she said.

After two weeks of the return to school for some groups on March 1st, the situation would be determined. Schools would be assisted by public health experts in the event of an outbreak where testing would take place and those tests would then be “red flagged”.

“No two schools will be the same,” she added.

When asked about antigen testing, Ms Foley said that the World Health Organisation does not recommend such testing in schools. But she added that if it is the judgment of health experts that antigen testing is required then it would be put in place.

The Minister also said that the progress of children on their return to school would be monitored and that if additional supports are required then they will be put in place.

Meanwhile, there are supplementary supports in place for special needs assistants and parents to help any students experiencing difficulties with remote learning.