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Parents should be 'very, very reassured' about safety of schools, Foley says

Parents can be "very, very reassured" that everything has been done to ensure schools are safe fo...
Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

09.40 25 Aug 2021


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Parents should be 'very, very...

Parents should be 'very, very reassured' about safety of schools, Foley says

Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

09.40 25 Aug 2021


Share this article


Parents can be "very, very reassured" that everything has been done to ensure schools are safe for students, Education Minister Norma Foley has said.

Students are returning to classes for the new school year over the next few days.

The return to school comes amid the Delta wave of COVID-19 infection.

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While children aged 12-15 are in the process of being vaccinated, younger children will be returning to school without vaccine protection.

Meanwhile, some experts have argued the safety measures that have been put in place for classrooms aren't enough.

Despite that, Minister Norma Foley told Newstalk Breakfast she's satisfied the school system is ready and can cope with the current COVID-19 situation.

Parents should be 'very, very reassured' about safety of schools, Foley says

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She said: “I think people can be very, very reassured. Even throughout the summer, we have been in regular with public health. All the infection prevention and control measures that are required in our schools are in place.

“Yards have been subdivided; there are separate entrances and exits where possible; there are staggered breaks and one-way systems within schools; there are enhanced cleaning operations; our staff are masked and at second-level our students are masked.

“I’m very optimistic and very confident.

“There’s an enormous positivity. I’ve engaged regularly with parents, staff and students themselves. All of them are of one view: it’s all systems go, and good to go back to school.”

CO2 monitors

Minister Foley suggested the last school year was “very successful”, notwithstanding the lengthy closure after Christmas.

She pointed to this week's HSE report which showed around 4% of children contracted COVID-19 during the last school year.

However, she said additional measures have been taken this year - including around ventilation.

She explained: “There was a recommendation we would introduce an additional tool this year, which is the CO2 monitors. They will be in place in our schools.

“We ordered them more than three months ago - they’ve arrived now, they’re being packaged today, and being moved out to our schools.”

Teachers' unions have expressed concern over the return of pregnant teachers to classrooms, in particular those who haven't been vaccinated yet.

The minister insisted her department has been “very cautious” in terms of addressing that issue.

She said: “We are taking the direction in terms of pregnant staff from the Institute of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

"It is their recommendation, and the recommendation of public health and occupational health, that pregnant staff can return to school and at 14 weeks would take their vaccine.

“I recognise that every case is an individual case. Where an individual has particular concerns… if it is the view of the GP and consultant that an individual should not return to school from a pregnancy point of view, they’re absolutely entitled to invoke pregnancy-related leave."

Main image: Norma Foley. Photograph: Sasko Lazarov / RollingNews.ie

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