Parents at Covid-hit Cork school want cases informed immediately 

Parents at Covid-hit Cork school want cases informed immediately 

Gaelscoil Uí Drisceoil in Glanmire: Parents have started an online petition calling for the HSE to inform schools if a student or staff member tests positive for Covid.

Schools should automatically and immediately be informed of a Covid-positive case connected to a student or staff member.

That’s according to parents at Gaelscoil Uí Drisceoil in Glanmire, the primary school recently closed as a precaution after a large outbreak saw 17 students test positive for Covid-19.

The temporary closure of the school has had an impact not only on the children and staff members but also on their wider families, according to parents. 

As well as causing worry, it has also had a financial impact on parents, who had to stay off work to isolate, or who experienced knock-on effects on their businesses. 

Parents have identified four areas they believe need to be immediately amended by the HSE in order to prevent a repeat of what happened at their school. The group has started a petition online that has so far amassed more than 1,000 signatures.  

It reads: 

In accordance with the current HSE public health guidance, a school is only informed if a parent gives permission for public health to share that information." 

This means that public health guidelines can be disregarded, it states, and it delays the risk assessment carried out by public health officials. 

Other issues identified include the "time lag" between when principals are informed of a positive case in a school, and that principals are prohibited from sharing information about a positive case. 

The HSE has significant powers regarding the sharing of data in the cases of notifiable diseases, according to Fiona Uí Bhuachalla, chair of the school’s parents’ association. 

“There is no reason legally why the HSE cannot allow schools to get the right information from them as a matter of procedure, and secondly to get it immediately and be allowed to share it appropriately with the class. There is no barrier under GDPR that restricts them or prevents them.”

There should be an "appropriate mechanism" in place whereby principals can alert vulnerable contacts, she added. “They need to be able to alert them immediately so they don’t come into school until the HSE protocol fully comes into place and people are properly contacted.”

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