Wexford school to reopen for in-person teaching after Covid closure

Board of management says it has been instructed to return to face-to-face learning with immediate effect

A Wexford primary school is to reopen for in-person teaching on Wednesday despite closing its doors just two days ago due to a serious Covid-19 outbreak.

CBS Primary School in Wexford town will have classes in the school building from Wednesday until mid-term break.

The decision was made at an emergency meeting of the board of management, which took place on Tuesday evening.

Previously, the school’s board of management had decided to close the school on Sunday evening due to more than 30 cases of Covid-19 being detected among the school’s population. The school has 270 pupils.

Classes were due to take place online until mid-term break on Friday.

However, this decision has now been reversed, and it is understood that the Department of Education asked the school to reopen.

In a letter sent to parents on Tuesday evening, signed on behalf of the school’s board of management, it was stated that “despite the ongoing concerns for the safety of our pupils, the considered decisions of the board of management, and after lengthy communications with the Department of Education, we have now been instructed to return to face to face learning, with immediate effect.”

The letter asked parents to not send their children to school if they are symptomatic, a close contact, a household contact or if they are waiting for the result of a Covid test.

The letter warned that children with symptoms will be sent home, even if their symptoms are mild.

On Monday school principal Vicky Barron had said there were “serious flaws” in HSE guidance for schools and the decision not to contact trace for cases in classes.

Meanwhile, a Co Wicklow primary school has also closed its doors due to a Covid outbreak. It is understood that this closure was in accordance with public health guidance.

In a statement responding to queries on the Co Wicklow school, the HSE said that it does not comment on individual cases or outbreaks of Covid-19.

“If public health determines that all staff and children need to be removed from an educational facility, it is based on a comprehensive public-health risk assessment and engagement with the facility.”

The HSE said that public health “very rarely” requires that all children and staff need to be removed from an educational facility.

“What schools nationally may decide outside of public health guidance and conversations is a matter for the school themselves and the education sector as a whole,” the statement concluded.

The Department of Education said in a statement, responding to queries on the Co Wicklow school, that Covid-19 response plans are in place in all schools.

“If there are particular outbreaks of concern in educational facilities, public health teams will continue to provide support to schools... and testing will remain available more broadly to children should it be required on public health, clinical grounds or following a public health risk assessment.”

The Department added that any student who has symptoms of Covid-19 should not attend school. “This will help to keep Covid-19 out of schools in the first instance.”