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School health measures to be reviewed before reopening next year

Public health officials and education representatives held a meeting today.

Image: Alamy Stock Photo

THE PUBLIC HEALTH measures in place in schools will be reviewed before classrooms reopen next year.

The Minister for Education Norma Foley and the HSE’s Chief Clinical Officer Dr Colm Henry today met representatives from school management bodies and trade unions to discuss the reopening of schools in the new year.

At the meeting, public health representatives committed to carrying out the review, with particular emphasis on outbreaks of Covid-19 in schools. 

Minister Foley told RTÉ’s News At One that today’s meeting was very “positive and constructive”.  

Addressing a question about whether schools would reopen as planned in January, minister Foley said children and young people are disadvantaged when they don’t have the opportunity to receive in-person teaching.

“We have learned in Covid, that there are many twists and turns and that we need to be resilient in how we meet those challenges,” Foley said.

We will follow the public health advice, we will do what needs to be done to ensure that our schools can operate.

“Whatever additional measures are going to be required going forward, they will be the measures that we will implement in the best interest of the students that we serve,” Foley added.

The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) said it set out the need for a detailed review of the first semester and called for the reintroduction of significant public health supports in schools during the meeting.

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“Public Health officials have agreed to review supports for primary schools, including addressing reporting mechanisms and response times in the case of outbreaks in these schools,” the INTO said in a statement.

“The union also set out the need for a more creative public awareness campaign to be rolled out in advance of schools reopening in the new term, and to ensure a meeting with the education partners took place during the holidays. Both points were agreed to by government,” it added.

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Céimin Burke

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