Procedures to be followed for suspected/confirmed COVID-19 cases in primary schools
27th August 2020
The Department of Education has, today, provided clarity on the procedures to be followed in the event of a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 in a primary school. The INTO has pushed for clarity on these matters in recent weeks.
Key points to note are:
The response to confirmed cases or outbreaks in schools will be led by Public Health HSE and, any actions to be taken by a school will be communicated directly by them. School management will be informed if action such as excluding children or staff; partial or full closures are deemed necessary. If the school is not so informed, it has not been deemed necessary by Public Health.
- If a child displays symptoms which may be consistent with COVID-19, the school should contact their parent or guardian and ask them to collect their child as soon as possible.
- The child should be cared for appropriately by a staff member whilst they are waiting to go home.
- The isolation space should be cleaned and contact surfaces disinfected when vacated.
- The staff member who has cared for the child with symptoms during this time does not need to go home unless subsequently advised to by Public Health HSE.
- At this stage, no further action by the school is required.
- In particular, schools are asked to note that they should not inform other parents or staff members that a pupil or staff member has gone home due to their symptoms. Other pupils or staff do not need to be removed from class, including siblings or other household members.
- If a GP determines that symptoms are consistent with COVID-19 infection, and the person is referred for a test, at this point the person becomes a suspected COVID-19 case and household members, including siblings, should be withdrawn from school by their parent or guardian. (The INTO has called on employers to give flexibility to parents/guardians in these circumstances.)
- Where there is a confirmed case, it will not be automatically assumed that a whole class will be deemed as close contacts.
- There is no blanket policy to test entire classes.
- In the event of an outbreak, Public Health will determine between a range of possible interventions, from exclusion and testing of a small group or pod of pupils up to, and including, closure of an affected facility.
Schools should have a summary of the following prepared in case it is needed by the public health authorities:
- A brief description of the school (type, numbers of staff and pupils and special features).
- A list of staff and pupils, with appropriate contact phone numbers
- A broad description of classrooms
- An outline of the staff and pupils’ movements around the school, between lessons and breaks
- An up-to-date list of ‘pods’ and ‘bubbles’
The INTO has called on the government to provide priority testing to any asymptomatic teacher in a primary or special school who requests it. We believe it is imperative that the government commits to the establishment of a surveillance system and a rapid, repeated testing and tracing regime for schools.
Scoil an Spioraid Naoimh
Roll Number: 20017F
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