Another primary school closes because of Covid concerns

Another primary school has closed to in-person teaching because of Covid, has learned.

he 135-pupil Hollywood NS in Co Wicklow did not open to pupils today.

Principal Séamas Ó Briain declined to comment on the development.

It is the second primary school to close to in-person teaching this week because of the level of virus infection.

A Wexford primary school closed its doors until after the Halloween break and switched to online teaching of its 270 pupils when at least 30 Covid cases were confirmed.

Principal Vicky Barron of CBS Primary School was critical of HSE guidance when it became “very obvious at least to me that this was a school outbreak as we could have had 10 cases” at a particular stage.

The board of management took the decision to close on Sunday evening.

Ms Barron had sought the advice of Public Health in relation to closing the school to children and was told “the HSE don’t give that advice, that it’s up to the board of management to make that call so we did, we’re just sorry we didn’t make it sooner”.

Primary teacher leaders want an urgent review of face coverings for the under-13s as well as the return of Covid testing and tracing to their schools as virus infection ­levels rise.

The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) says public health protection measures in 3,200 primary schools must be scaled up to deal with the latest Covid wave.

While schools will finish on Friday for the week-long Halloween midterm break, the union will be pressing for changes on their return.

The INTO protested against the end of routine public health risk assessments and automatic contact tracing of asymptomatic close contacts among primary pupils on September 27, along with the decision not to require them to restrict their movements.

That was at a time when it looked as if infection levels were under control.

In its statement, the INTO said: “Now is the time to raise our shield once more to protect our schools. It is not a sustainable position to expect our schools to operate as normal when infection levels in our communities continue to spiral.”

It wants the immediate reintroduction of public-health risk assessments, testing and contact tracing, the commencement of the schools’ pilot scheme for antigen ­testing, recommended in April.

As well as an urgent review of the age restriction on the use of face coverings, promised for within two months of August.

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