Secondary school reopening plans on track – Foley

Signs ‘positive’ for full return on April 12th as transmission rates low in schools – Minister

Plans to fully reopen secondary schools on April 12th remain on track based on low transmission rates of Covid-19 in schools, Minister for Education Norma Foley has said.

About 250,000 secondary school students are due back in secondary school after the Easter break.

Ms Foley said the “signs were very positive at this stage” for a full reopening of secondary schools on April 12th.

Latest HSE figures showed the positivity rate among students and staff, who were mass-tested for Covid-19 in schools last week on foot of detected cases, was 2.4 per cent, up from 1.1 per cent the previous week.


This is lower than the national positivity rate (3.8 per cent) and the positivity rate for cases referred for testing from GPs (14 per cent).

Positivity rates are considered by public health experts as a key indicator for the risk of Covid-19 transmission.

The figures relate to March 7th-13th, when primary schools were half open, while secondary schools were open to sixth-year students.

The number of schools where a positive case of Covid-19 was detected during that week was 108, up from 34 the previous week.


When asked if the school reopening plans remained on track, Ms Foley said: “I think the signs are very positive at this stage. Notwithstanding that, we always caveat it with the knowledge that Covid-19 is very unpredictable . . . so we are still very conscious that we are asking society to be very mindful of that, to do all we can do to keep numbers down, to ensure we are keeping our distance and wearing our masks and keeping hospitalisations down . . .

“There is still a body of work to be done . . . certainly, from a schools’ perspective, it is going very well.”

She said the school community has been positive about the reopening of schools and wider society has also received a boost.

Ms Foley said low transmission rates in schools were a sign that mitigation measures were working, which reaffirmed the message from public health authorities that schools are safe settings.

Last Monday, more than 300,000 primary school children returned to school as part of the latest phase of school reopening.

Primary schools have now fully reopened, while fifth and sixth years have returned to secondary school.

The planned date for the return of remaining secondary school students – first year up to transition year – is April 12th.

Ms Foley has previously emphasised that this return date will need to be confirmed by public health authorities.

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien is Education Editor of The Irish Times. He was previously chief reporter and social affairs correspondent