Thursday, 1 July 2021
Department of Education and Skills
Schools have put significant infection prevention control measures in place to reduce the risk of coronavirus being transmitted to/within the school and significant funding of almost €650 million has been put in place by my Department to fund Covid-19 related measures, including funding for PPE, sanitation and additional cleaning etc. These measures will continue for the coming school year.
The weekly reports from Public Health since schools reopened are very reassuring, showing that the close contact positivity rate in schools is remaining very stable and is still at a low level. Unavoidably there has been some outbreaks and some students have had to return for a short period to remote teaching and learning. However, I am confident that the combined supports from my Department and the HSE schools teams are proving very effective in supporting schools to manage through these events.
There is a dedicated school principal’s help line open seven days a week supported by staff of the Department. This is a dedicated service for principals. Following the reopening of schools on a phased basis in February/March 2021, the Department increased the percentage assignment of Department inspectors to the HSE to support this dedicated phone line. The Department is coordinating closely with the HSE Public Health Team on a weekly basis – and sometimes more frequently – to manage the support needed by the HSE. The level of support required will be kept under review for the new school year.