This week, Government looks set to ask schools to remain closed for at least another three weeks due to the surge of COVID cases.
With over 6,000 new cases were announced yesterday, Dr Holohan said that such a significant rise would inevitably impact education services. It seems inevitable now that schools will remain closed for the foreseeable as the cabinet is set to make a call on it this week.
Although infection amongst school-going children remaining relatively low, the record-high numbers and strain on the testing system mean it is highly likely that schools (and the movement around schools of teachers, parents and suppliers) will not reopen on January 11 as previously expected.
Due to the wave of new coronavirus cases, the HSE testing system is currently working at full capacity and are no longer testing close contacts. Instead, they are only testing those with symptoms and asking anyone who has been in close contact with a confirmed COVID case (defined as living with them or spending 15 minutes of face-to-face contact within 2 metres) are being asked to restrict their movements for two weeks instead, even if they feel well.
This means that the surge in cases is likely much higher than is currently being reported and with children having a high rate of asymptomatic cases, opening schools is likely too much of a risk at this point.
This comes on the heels of Boris Johnson’s announcement yesterday that the UK is to go into full lockdown, asking all schools and universities to switch to remote learning.
The matter is due to be discussed this week in the cabinet committee and then by wider cabinet and provisions for school-going children of frontline workers and other small subsets will be reviewed.
Read more: A quarantined childhood: Four mums on how their little ones have coped through 2020
Read more: Children under lockdown: ‘Resilient or not, it is time to acknowledge that our children are not ok’
Read more: Coronavirus Commune: meet the families who found a way to thrive through the crisis
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