Thursday, 18 February 2021
Department of Education and Skills
I propose to take Questions Nos. 220 and 221 together.
Information and reporting on Covid outbreaks, including those associated with higher education, is a matter for public health authorities in the Department of Health and HSE and is subject to patient confidentiality and GDPR requirements. Therefore the information requested by the Deputy is not held by my Department.
In the context of its work in overseeing the impact of Covid on higher and further education and in particular ensuring that sectorial frameworks have been put in place to ensure that educational settings in tertiary education are safe for students and staff, my Department liaises closely with the sectorial representative bodies, higher education institutions and student union representatives in relation to any significant issues arising from Covid outbreaks that may be relevant to the national policy approach. In this regard my Department also participates in the central government structures for Covid under the aegis of the Department of the Taoiseach and engages with the Department of Health and the HSE in relation to public health advice and guidance on specific issues that arise for the tertiary sector as it seeks to respond and adapt to the impact of Covid on provision and seeks to attenuate the significant challenges faced by students and learners. However I have sought through my Department further information from the specific institutions in question.