St. Wolstan's Community School

Covid-19 Update from Department of Education and HSE

05-January-22
Covid-19 Update from Department of Education and HSE

Information Note from Department of Education & HSE

COVID-19: Updated Arrangements for all recognised Post Primary Schools – January 2022

As schools reopen in 2022, it is important that we continue and renew our focus on the public health measures that will help your school communities to stay as safe as possible during the coming year. COVID-19 vaccination uptake in adults, in Ireland, is one of the highest globally. This high uptake helps protect those most vulnerable and also very significantly reduces the harm associated with Covid-19 infection for those who are fully vaccinated and boosted.

However, we still need to work together to ensure we continue with all measures to best control Covid-19 in schools and that we minimise the onward spread of Covid-19 within schools, and our communities. The infection prevention and control (IPC) measures in place in schools have helped to prevent and control Covid-19 in schools. These measures have been reviewed and updated in light of the emergence of the omicron variant.

Infection prevention and Control Measures:

1. Before attending school:

Symptoms – Please make sure all staff and families are aware not to attend school if they have any symptoms of Covid-19 infection.

Symptom profiles are available here [symptoms] and we advise parents to take a precautionary approach, particularly for children less able to articulate their symptoms, that if a child appears unwell, observe them at home and contact their GP as appropriate.

Close contacts - Please remind all staff and children that if they have been told by the HSE services that they are a close contact of a case of Covid-19, they need to adhere to the advice on the HSE website in relation to restricted movements and testing. Children under 13 years who are household close contacts must restrict their movements for 14 days and they are offered PCR testing at day 0 and day 10. On receipt of a day 10 not-detected PCR test result, they may exit restricted movements. It is important that anyone who has been identified as a close contact, is very aware of COVID-19 symptoms, and isolate and undergo testing should they develop any symptoms.

2. Students and COVID-19 (Post Primary Schools)

If a post primary student has tested positive for COVID-19:

  • They will be contact traced by the National Contact Tracing Team.
  • The National Contact Tracing Team will contact them and ask them to identify their close contacts.
  • The student who tested positive will have to isolate for 10 days from the day their symptoms started or for 10 days from the day they had the positive PCR test. The student can return to school after this isolation period, provided they do not have a fever/temperature during the last 5 days of their isolation period.

Students who have symptoms of COVID-19 should stay at home, isolate and arrange to have a COVID-19 test.

There are 2 types of COVID-19 test available from the HSE: antigen tests (home test kits) and PCR tests (done at a test centre and sent to a lab).

Students (or anyone between 4 to 39 years of age) who has symptoms of COVID-19 are offered antigen tests firstly and they do not book a PCR test unless they get a positive antigen test result.

Note – If a student is identified as a CLOSE CONTACT of a case in their HOUSEHOLD they will have to restrict their movement as per national guidelines for household close contact and get a COVID-19 test as soon as possible.

3. Re-enforcing general public health messages

In addition to ensuring that staff and children do not attend school if they have any symptoms of Covid-19 infection, please ensure all staff and children are reminded of the importance of abiding by the national public health measures currently in place at all times e.g. vaccination (including boosters), social distancing, use of face masks, hand hygiene, ventilation and minimising social contacts.

What to do when a confirmed case of Covid-19 arises that is connected with the school:

It is inevitable that cases of Covid-19 will arise in schools when they reopen, just as they are currently arising in the community. It is recommended that schools implement the infection prevention and control measures above.

Throughout the pandemic and over the Christmas period, the Department has continued to engage with public health authorities. Public Health has fully reviewed the measures in effect in schools. Public Health continues to advise that the two most important actions to prevent the introduction and spread of COVID-19 (and other respiratory viruses), are:

  • Ensuring no-one with new onset symptoms attends school, and;
  • That all recommended infection prevention and control measures are in place in line with school COVID-19 response plans.

The key infection prevention and control measures that are focused on keeping COVID-19 out of schools and reducing the risk of spread of infection in schools are the use of appropriate hand hygiene, enhanced cleaning, good ventilation practices, mask wearing requirement, maximising physical distancing and antigen testing. Public Health has confirmed that there is no change to these infection prevention and control measures.

Ventilation

It should be noted that windows do not need to be open as wide in windy/colder weather in order to achieve the same level of airflow into the classroom. This will assist in achieving the appropriate balance between ventilation and comfort levels during periods of colder weather. Opening windows fully for a short period at the end of each school day avoids the need to do the same again before the start of classes in the morning and further assists in managing comfort levels in the classroom in the mornings (partially opened windows should enable good ventilation to be achieved when classrooms are occupied). Given that each school setting is different, individual schools are best placed to decide on the appropriate measures for their school and have flexibility in this regard.

Further information is available at

https://www2.hse.ie/conditions/covid19/testing/get-tested/

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St. Wolstan's Community School,
Clane Road,
Celbridge,
Co. Kildare,
Ireland
W23 RKA9

01 628 8257


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