Recent circular to all school principals appears to suggest Department of Education seeking to influence decisions on close contacts of COVID cases to keep schools open
In a statement this evening, Richard Boyd Barrett TD, expressed major concern over the recent circular sent from the Department of Education to all principals outlining a convoluted procedure for principals when it comes to a staff member testing positive for Covid 19.
The circular, which requests principals to ring the Department of Education in the event of a teacher testing positive, goes on to say that the Department will then get in touch with Public Health for contact tracing purposes.
The procedure seems to place the Department of Education in the middle of public health procedures with regards to contact tracing.
Deputy Boyd Barrett said: “This circular strongly suggests that the Department of Education wants to play a role in public health contact tracing which is at best bizarre and at worst alarming that they might be seeking to influence the health officials in their most important job of identifying the close contacts of a positive case of Covid.
“It further begs the question of whether the desire of the department to keep schools open is leading them to interfere in the work of public health.
“This circular also adds fuel to the fire of anxiety and concern being expressed by teachers, other school staff and their unions, that their health and safety is not being protected during Covid 19 because of the government’s imperative to keep schools open at all costs.
“The circular is also placing even more pressure on school principals and vice principals where they are now, essentially, being asked to play a role in contact tracing and to do this out of hours if necessary. All teachers and school staff have worked under tremendous pressure all term in order to protect public health and expecting them now to take on this extra role is just outrageous.”