A further 21,302 new COVID cases have been announced this evening.
There were 90 in intensive care, down three on yesterday and down two last week.
The five-day moving average has increased to 19,750.
The Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said the surge in cases is having a “major impact on essential services across all sectors, including the health service”.
“As one of our key essential services – the education sector prepares to restart in-person education this week,” he said.
“It is important that we continue to minimise, as much as we can, discretionary mixing indoors with people from other households.
“We saw a significant reduction in incidence of COVID-19 in primary school going children through December; however, given the very high and rising incidence of COVID-19 across all age groups in the community, it is inevitable that children will pick up this infection from household contacts in the days and weeks ahead.
“We also know, as a result, that there will be cases and outbreaks in schools and childcare settings.”
He said the evidence “continues to give us reason to believe that schools are a lower risk environment for the transmission of COVID-19”.
“Children who have symptoms of COVID-19 or who live in a household where someone has received a positive or ‘detected’ test result either on a PCR or an antigen test should not attend school,” he said.
“It is important that all of us continue to support schools, business owners, family and friends to keep to the spirit of public health advice.
“We must continue to restrict our movements to the greatest extent possible, by limiting the people we interact with from other households if we are to suppress transmission of COVID-19 and sustain our essential services.”
It comes as the Department of Education confirmed that schools will reopen as planned on Thursday.
Following a meeting between the Education Minister Norma Foley, teachers’ unions and education stakeholders, the department said there was “no public health rationale to delay the reopening of schools later this week”.
It said the meeting was productive and all parties recognised the “the importance to students of in-school teaching and learning”.