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Over 500 Covid outbreaks associated with school students and staff in second half of 2021

That’s according to the latest data from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre.
Jan 6th 2022, 2:01 PM 16,423 40

THERE WERE MORE Covid-19 outbreaks associated with school pupils and staff in the second half of last year than any other setting, excluding private homes. 

That’s according to the latest data from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) looking at the fourth wave of Covid-19 in Ireland between 27 June and 31 December 2021. 

The highest number of outbreaks were recorded among families in private homes, with 914 such outbreaks. 

The next highest figure came from school children and staff, with 514 outbreaks occurring among those groups. 

The HPSC classifies school outbreaks as those associated with school children and or school staff. It says transmission of Covid-19 within the school has not necessarily been established in these outbreaks, however. 

An outbreak is defined by the HPSC as either two or more confirmed cases of Covid-19 regardless of symptom status. Or it can also refer to two or more cases of illness with symptoms consistent with Covid-19 where at least one person is a confirmed case.

The third highest amount of outbreaks were recorded in workplaces, with 458 outbreaks. 

These figures come as schools reopen around the country today. 

The ASTI yesterday said there is  “enormous unease” among their members over the schools reopening, as the INTO said there “isn’t a hope” of getting enough substitute teachers to cover absences in schools over the coming weeks.

“There will be situations where there will be classes at home, there will be situations where schools will have to do a bit of juggling,” John Boyle of the INTO said today.

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In response, Education Minister Norma Foley said there will be challenges in the weeks ahead, but added that an additional 2,500 student teachers and retired teachers are being made available to fill those gaps.

When asked whether the Department of Education or the principal makes the final decision on whether a class goes home or a school closes, Foley said that “schools know their own situation on the ground, but schools can draw the resource of the department and the inspectors in particular, so that they can work through the best solution”.

The Government has insisted since last December that schools would open as planned on 6 January; following a meeting between the Minister for Education, Department officials, unions and school representatives on Tuesday, it was decided that schools would open today as planned.

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Hayley Halpin

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