Teachers will help students prepare for delayed Leaving Cert through summer

The country’s largest second-level teachers union has said its members are willing to work over the summer to help students prepare for Leaving Certificate exams postponed because of the Covid-19 crisis.
Teachers will help students prepare for delayed Leaving Cert through summer

The country’s largest second-level teachers union has said its members are willing to work over the summer to help students prepare for Leaving Certificate exams postponed because of the Covid-19 crisis.

The Association of Secondary Teacher’s Ireland (ASTI) had been criticised for saying that “no teacher will be required to do anything” if the exams were rescheduled for July or August.

However, the union said that it would now work to support the Government’s decision to postpone the exams, although some members still had “serious concerns”.

The news came shortly after the Government announced Ireland’s highest daily Covid-19 death toll as the virus claimed a further 41 lives. There have now been 406 Covid-19 related deaths in Ireland, with 11,479 confirmed cases.

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Chief medical officer Tony Holohan said it is possible that some people who have died in nursing homes or other locations did not receive a test and will not be counted in the official Covid-19 figures. Some 187 deaths have been reported by nursing homes, with more than 150 clusters identified.

Dr Holohan said he “remains concerned about the prevalence of Covid-19 in nursing homes and residential care settings”.

Nursing Homes Ireland, which represents more than 300 private nursing homes, said a lack of priority placed on nursing homes in the early stages of the outbreak has contributed to the issue.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr Tony Holohan.
Chief Medical Officer, Dr Tony Holohan.

Testing remains a focus for the Department of Health, which was forced to apologise after 100 people received an incorrect test result.

Patients had been advised, in error, that their test did not detect Covid-19, and on review were found positive.

The Department of Health said the error occurred due to an “IT glitch”.

Irish patient samples — which had been sent to a laboratory in Germany in a bid to tackle the State’s testing backlog — had been sent back as “invalid”.

Ronan Glynn, deputy chief medical officer, paid tribute to his colleagues in Germany before explaining that some tests can be reported as “indeterminate or invalid”.

Around 100 Irish tests received this result, which the IT system in Ireland did not recognise and reverted the results to negative.

These results were then incorrectly communicated to patients.

The Department of Health said all the cases have been identified and the IT issue has been rectified.

“We’d like to reassure members of the public that this is not a testing issue but an IT glitch on our side,” Dr Glynn said.

Over the past week, 20,468 tests were carried out in Irish laboratories and, of these some 4,233 were positive, giving a positivity rate of 21%.

Queues in the middle of March at Intreo offices as people apply for Covid 19 unemployment payment. The IMF says 2021 could see numbers out of work increasing. Picture: Garry O’Neill
Queues in the middle of March at Intreo offices as people apply for Covid 19 unemployment payment. The IMF says 2021 could see numbers out of work increasing. Picture: Garry O’Neill

Meanwhile, it has also emerged that 42% of private sector workers are now receiving some form of government payment as the economic fallout continues to bite.

Up to yesterday, 533,000 people had been issued with the Covid-19 pandemic unemployment support payment — up 26,000 on last week.

In addition, more than 42,000 employers have now signed up to the temporary wage subsidy scheme — covering 219,400 employees.

The payments are in addition to the 210,000 on the live register receiving jobseekers’ benefit.

Breakdown of the pandemic support payments shows accommodation and food sector (115,500) hardest hit, followed by retail (81,400) and construction (71,000).

Dublin accounts for the highest number of claims at 152,700, followed by Cork at 55,600, and Galway at 29,100.

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