Mary Immaculate Secondary School

Updated Information on Covid 19 and Schools - Department of Education

30-August-21
Updated Information on Covid 19 and Schools - Department of Education

As schools reopen for the 2021/2022 school year, it is important that we renew our focus on the measures that will help your school communities to stay safe during this academic year.

The Covid-19 pandemic is ongoing, however vaccination is widely available for all eligible and we have seen very high uptakes across society. Vaccination uptake in Ireland is one of the highest globally, and this helps protect those most vulnerable and very significantly reduces the harm associated with Covid-19 infection for those who are fully vaccinated.

However, we still need to work together to ensure we continue with all measures to best keep Covid19 out of schools and that we minimise opportunity for onward spread of Covid-19 within schools, and our communities at large.

The infection prevention and control measures in place in schools have worked very effectively to prevent and control Covid-19 in schools. This is down to the immense efforts made by school communities to implement and adhere to these measures. Thank you for your leadership and for the effort of all of your teams in this regard.

Infection prevention and Control Measures:

1) Before attending school:

Symptoms - Please make sure all are aware not to attend school if they have any symptoms of Covid-19 infection. Symptom profiles are available on the HSE website and we do advise parents to take a precautionary approach, particularly for children less able to articulate their symptoms, that if they seem unwell, to observe them at home and contact their GP as appropriate. We know from our experience that where people had been symptomatic in educational facilities, that was where we identified more close contacts with Covid-19.

Close contacts - Please be reminded if you have been told by the HSE services that you are a close contact of a case of Covid-19, you need to restrict movements at home and will be offered testing, as soon as possible after you have been identified and then at day 10. Once you are asymptomatic and have received a ‘not detected’ test result from day 10 test, you can stop restricting movements and return to school. However, if you are fully vaccinated, will you be contacted by the HSE and your vaccination status will be determined and you will be informed that you no longer need to restrict movements and will not be referred for testing.

In this case, close contacts (staff or students) are able to attend school. It is important that anyone who would have been a close contact, are very aware of their symptoms, and isolate and undergo testing should they develop any symptoms. If anyone tests positive for Covid-19, then they are managed as a case of Covid-19. Note where a close contact of a positive case is identified, the siblings of these close contacts do not require routine exclusion and therefore siblings can still attend school, unless they have also been determined by the HSE to be a close contact.

Re-enforcing general public health messages - Please be reminded of the importance of abiding by the national public health measures currently in place at all times e.g. social distancing, use of face masks and hand hygiene, minimising social contacts.

2) Within your school – Mitigation measures – A range of essential control measures have been implemented to reduce the risk of the spread of Covid-19 virus and to protect the safety, health and welfare of staff, students, parents and visitors as far as possible within the school. The best ways to prevent the spread of Covid19 is to practice physical distancing, adopt proper hand hygiene follow respiratory etiquette; for students at post primary and staff at primary and post primary to wear a mask and to ventilate facilities and classrooms. The control measures shall continue to be reviewed and updated as required on an ongoing basis.

Please implement the physical distancing arrangements in the classroom. We would also request that, where possible, close friends sit close by, again to minimise close contacts and onward spread of infection. Ensure that face masks are worn indoors by staff and students and outdoors where physical distancing is not being maintained.

3) What to do when a confirmed case of Covid-19 arises that is connected with the school:

It is inevitable that cases of Covid-19 will arise in schools when they reopen just as they are currently arising in the community. It will be assumed that schools are implementing the infection prevention and control measure above.

There are some key messages that you need to remember when cases arise:

There is no need to panic – classes do not need to be sent home or told not to come in to school.

It is important to remember that the confirmed case is no longer within the school and therefore the risk of onward transmission from that person has been removed from the school setting.

If the case was not in the school setting whilst infectious, then the school will not need to take any action because there is no significant risk that the case has spread the infection in the school setting. As per last academic year, Public health will not call the school in these circumstances.

The ‘infectious period’ is the timeframe during which someone with an infectious disease can spread it to other people – the ‘infectious period’ for Covid-19 includes the 24 hours before testing for asymptomatic cases, or the 48 hours before symptom onset for symptomatic cases.

If the case of Covid-19 was in the school during the infectious period, the HSE will identify any close contacts and schools will be contacted.

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Mary Immaculate Secondary School,
Lisdoonvarna,
Co. Clare,
Ireland

065 707 4266


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