Michael Staines
Michael Staines

16.02 10 Mar 2020


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The Department of Education has said there are currently no plans to shut schools because of the coronavirus outbreak.

In a statement, the department said any decision would be based on the advice of public health officials.

It warned that schools should not decide to close of their own volition – and said management bodies would be contacted if any action is required.

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“Any decision to close schools will be made on public health advice,” it said. “There is no such advice at this point.”

“It is essential that any decisions regarding responses to COVID-19 are proportionate, necessary and based on specific public health advice.

“No other response is appropriate.”

Cornavirus COVID-19 File photo of the Education Minister Joe McHugh, 09-01-2020. Image: RolingNews

It said all schools, pre-schools and higher education facilities have been given advice and guidance on how to respond to the outbreak.

Education Minister Joe McHugh said all national decisions on the virus will be made by the Department of Health.

“It is important to be really, really clear here,” he said.

“Any decision in relation to anything to do with coronavirus is going to be led at a health level – so the Chief Medical Officer and his team.

“Any decisions, whether it is to do with schools, to do with anything else; they are the first-and-foremost people in charge of making those decisions.”

The department said the situation is evolving, with health advice updated on a daily basis.

“The department is deeply conscious of the significance of decisions concerning school closures, and the potential impact any such decisions would have on parents, families and the wider community,” it said.

Separately, the Department of Transport said there has been an overall 5% reduction in passenger numbers on public transport.

It said it will “continue to monitor transport patterns” and will respond to the situation as it evolves.


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