Primary schools should close on Friday for the Christmas break in light of the emergence of the Omicron variant.
That is according to People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy, who was speaking as NPHET meets to consider whether more restrictions are needed.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said he expects more measures aimed at trying to decrease the amount of social mixing - as well as possible changes around close contacts and revised rules on international travel.
Deputy Murphy told Newstalk Breakfast the threat from Omicron has changed the situation.
"Primary schools are now the number one location where we have outbreaks of COVID.
"So much for the mantra that schools are safe.
"Primary schools still, really disgracefully, do not have the HEPA filters that they need to have.
"There's only three days left and... in terms of Omicron, the data coming out - we may wish it was not so - but the data coming out is extremely concerning about how transmissible Omicron is.
"If you look at the figures in Britain, at the moment it appears to be doubling the case numbers every two days.
"It is here, it's increasing at a very rapid rate here.
"And at those numbers - even if it was the case that there was a lower level of hospitalisation associated with it - just the sheer scale of the numbers of cases that you're talking about, in a couple of weeks' time it would overwhelm our hospitals".
Labour's education spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin says closing schools early would have a knock-on effect.
"I think it's a shame we're having this debate, and I would agree with Paul that if Government had done more in terms of the education system over the last number of months we'd be in a better position to keep them open.
"It's not a kind of a debate where you can come down 100% on either side.
"If they were to be closed because NPHET said they should close, then we'd have no difficulty with that.
"The problem is [if] you close primary schools, it follows down that childcare needs to close.
"You do that and then you have a lot of families who are not going to be able to function Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday next week."
And he says this could make it harder for them to re-open in the new year.
"Then it follows on it's going to be very difficult to open them up again in January.
"It's probably the biggest decision that they'd have to make.
"The numbers are difficult now, as inevitably it seems to be the case in January when they worsen, it would be extremely difficult to open them up again".