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Ending contact tracing in schools 'removing the safety net' - INTO

A teaching union says changes to testing and tracing for primary schools is removing the safety n...
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

20.50 22 Sep 2021


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Ending contact tracing in scho...

Ending contact tracing in schools 'removing the safety net' - INTO

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

20.50 22 Sep 2021


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A teaching union says changes to testing and tracing for primary schools is removing the safety net for them.

It comes as automatic close contact tracing in childcare facilities and primary schools is to be discontinued from Monday September 27th.

Other changes will see the end of testing of asymptomatic close contacts in childcare facilities and primary education.

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While children aged 12 or under, who are identified as close contacts and who are asymptomatic in childcare or other non-household settings, will no longer be required to restrict movements - unless indicated by the local public health team.

However, those who are 12 and under and identified as household close contacts in household settings will still need to restrict movements and get tested - regardless of their symptomatic status.

John Boyle is general-secretary of the INTO. He told The Hard Shoulder they cannot understand why this happened.

"We're absolutely flabbergasted at this hasty decision - basically Government has decided to remove the safety net from primary schools after less than four weeks of the school year.

"In those four weeks, the public health people that we deal with on a weekly basis have told us that infection levels are much higher in primary schools than usual.

"They've admitted that the HSE's ineptitude has caused us not to have proper data.

"And the minister then has the cheek, Minister Donnelly, to say that the latest data indicates that schools continue to be a low-risk environment".

Mr Boyle says figures from the HSE have been unclear.

"The data that was provided yesterday by the HSE said that in the last two weeks there were over 4,000 children of primary school age [who] tested positive.

"But then another wing of the HSE produced a report today showing in three weeks so far in the schools, that there were only 750 cases after mass testing in schools.

"That's because there's no joined up thinking within the HSE this year - whatever supports were there for schools last year have been stripped out.

"And this is a further measure now today that we felt should not be even entertained until after mid-term break".

And he believes the measure has been brought in without the criteria being met, which was set out last Thursday.

"Their advice to Government was that if there wasn't a sign that there was additional infection in schools over the coming weeks - up until next Monday - that they could proceed with this measure.

"Now we have absolutely no evidence to show that they have any data that is reliable.

"Therefore what's going to happen now at the weekend, for families of Ireland, is that they're going to be hearing on Friday night and Saturday that their child has to restrict their movements for 10 days.

"And then on Monday, a child in the exact same situation is going to be told that they can continue to go to school - that is going to create absolute chaos".

Ending contact tracing in schools 'removing the safety net' - INTO

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

    

Main image: INTO General-Secretary John Boyle arriving for a COVID-19 committee meeting at Leinster House in July 2020. Picture by: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

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Childcare Facilities Contact Tracing INTO John Boyle Primary Schools The Hard Shoulder

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