Rising Covid infections and international evidence supports new policy on schools, says TD
People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith has renewed calls for the Government to shut schools earlier for the Christmas break and to consider extending the school break.
Reacting to events at the Claremorris National school the TD strongly criticised the actions of the Department of Education and questioned the continued criteria that public health officials are using when ascertaining the impact in specific schools.
“I have had concerns for some time about our schools and especially the treatment of hundreds of teachers and pupils from families with underlying conditions. I have not been reassured by the constant mantra that our schools are safe considering that issues around class size, social distance and ventilation have never been addressed”.
The TD also said that international experience suggested that the evidence on school transmission was not as simple as first portrayed and pointed to a recent Lancet report from 131 countries that suggested closing schools could have an immediate and big impact on rates of transmission.
“I think the Claremorris situation gives us the chance to re-evaluate the policy on schools. It is no longer good enough to repeat that schools are safe when there is a growing body of international evidence that questions that. Added to this evidence we know that the definition of a close contact remains different in schools compared to other settings and even to the ECDC definition. Finally, we also know that our public health teams are grossly understaffed and unable to pursue the kind of tracing they want.”
The TD also highlighted the need for supports for parents and front-line workers in the event that schools shut earlier or for longer.