Department to issue blanket vaccine guidelines to schools

Department to issue blanket vaccine guidelines to schools

Education Minister Norma Foley brought a memo to the Cabinet meeting today confirming plans are in place for a full reopening of schools in late August and early September. File picture: Sasko Lazarov/Rollingnews.ie

Schools won’t be allowed to set their own rules on vaccinations for staff and students, with blanket guidelines to be issued instead by the Department of Education.

Education Minister Norma Foley brought a memo to the Cabinet meeting today confirming plans are in place for a full reopening of schools in late August and early September.

Ministers were told that blanket guidelines around vaccinations will be issued centrally by the Department of Education. 

In the coming weeks, schools will receive portable CO2 monitors from the Department of Education. These are expected to give schools a “useful general indication” of areas or rooms that may not be adequately ventilated.

Schools will also continue to operate the current infection prevention and control measures when they reopen in the new term.

“Public Health has stated that the new variants of the disease do not change the infection prevention and control measures required in schools,” Ms Foley said in a statement issued after the Cabinet meeting. 

The evidence available from the operation of schools during Covid-19 to date shows they are low-risk environments due to the infection prevention and control measures in place, she said.

“The provision of CO2 monitors for every school will be an important tool in keeping our schools safe and in addition to the mitigation measures already in place, our staff and students can be confident of returning to safe environments in our schools.” 

The Department of Education will also undertake a communications campaign ahead of the new term. This will include specifically targeted information at new pupils entering primary and post-primary schools to ensure they are familiar with the new arrangements.

Health and safety in the reopening of schools must remain "paramount", according to Michael Gillespie, general secretary of the Teachers' Union of Ireland.

"In engagements with the department in the coming weeks, we will continue to raise the concerns of our members, particularly in relation to those who are pregnant or may have underlying health issues. All protections must be strictly adhered to, and the health and safety of all in school communities must remain paramount."

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