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‘We’re at the pin of our collar’

PRIMARY school principals in Cork have called on the Government to provide free antigen tests for teachers amid surging Covid-19 case numbers. This is supposedly the new normal the world will have to live with till a more suitable cure is found.

Last week the Government confirmed arrangements for a new system of antigen testing of asymptomatic close contacts in primary schools put in place by the HSE. However, the published document announcing the plan does not reference teachers.

Antigen tests will be made available to the children in a primary school pod, where a child in the pod has had a PCR test that detected Covid-19. Where two or more confirmed cases of Covid-19 occur in a class within a seven-day period outside of a single pod, antigen testing will be offered to the full class.

The tests will be sent to the children’s parents by the HSE.

Parents or guardians of a primary school child, who has been confirmed as having Covid-19 following a PCR test, are asked to inform their school’s principal. The school principal will then inform the parents of other children in the pod of a confirmed case.

No personal details of the child will be shared.

These parents will be provided with the option to receive free antigen tests for their child, which they will be able to order for delivery to their home.

It is not mandatory for children to participate in antigen testing.

Children who are in a pod where a child has tested positive for Covid-19 can continue to attend school, whether they participate in antigen testing or not, provided that they are not experiencing symptoms of Covid-19.

Principal of Scoil Padre Pio in Churchfield, Ken Foley said the initiative, while not perfect, is “long overdue”.

“We’ve been calling out for it for a long time with the Department. We’ll watch how it goes over the next few weeks and hopefully it will go some way towards keeping it [Covid-19] out,” he said.

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