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Re-opening schools: Minister fails to clarify if antigen tests will play a role

The Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue has failed to clarify if antigen testing for coronav...
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

13.49 24 Feb 2021


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Re-opening schools: Minister f...

Re-opening schools: Minister fails to clarify if antigen tests will play a role

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

13.49 24 Feb 2021


Share this article


The Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue has failed to clarify if antigen testing for coronavirus will be carried out in schools.

He was speaking after Taoiseach Micheál Martin said schools will start re-opening from next week.

Leaving Certificate students as well as the four youngest years of primary school will be the first pupils to return to classrooms on March 1st.

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Minister McConalogue told Pat Kenny the approach is different this time.

"Last time when we opened up the schools we would have opened them all up at the same time and in one go - whereas it's a much more gradual approach this time around.

"Very much being cautious and taking onboard the medical advice, but also taking onboard the fact as well that it is really important that we do try and get children and our young students back to school for their welfare and for their health".

Pat Kenny cited a number of other countries - including Germany and Spain - which are using antigen tests in schools, such as lateral flow and saliva tests.

He asked the minister if there were plans to test in schools after they re-open.

Minister McConalogue replied: "There is very clear and well thought out protocols in place in schools: first of all in keeping students and staff safe, and secondly in terms of how you react in the event of somebody becoming infectious and their family being infectious either.

"The big consideration... this time around is the phased and gradual re-opening in terms of the lesser numbers at school, the lesser numbers as well that will be travelling to school".

But he said the Government is "looking and assessing" antigen testing, which "is being considered".

The European Commission put forward proposals for a common framework for the use, validation and mutual recognition of rapid antigen tests across the bloc last December.

Minister McConalogue denied that the Government's approach was to 'lockdown and vaccinate'.

"We're using every instrument at our disposal, Pat, and I think if you look right across the world unfortunately apart from the vaccines.... it's restricting our movements and being really cautious in how we interact".

Asked why Ireland is still catching up with mandatory quarantine for travellers, Minister McConalogue said: "I don't agree it's at a snails pace - and if you look at the situation across other European countries, it's certainly not inconsistent with the approach taken in other European countries.

"And we do have to also be cognizant of the fact that we are an island nation with connections to our neighbouring island in particular".

Re-opening schools: Minister fails to clarify if antigen tests will play a role

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Main image: Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue is seen during a press conference at Government Buildings in Dublin. Picture by: Julien Behal Photography / RollingNews.ie

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Antigen Tests Charlie McConalogue Coronavirus Testing Pat Kenny Re-opening Schools Schools

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