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Antigen testing for schools not recommended by Nphet, says Minister Foley


Education Minister Norma Foley. Photo: Frank McGrath

Education Minister Norma Foley. Photo: Frank McGrath

Education Minister Norma Foley. Photo: Frank McGrath

Using antigen testing in schools has not been recommended by Nphet, Education Minister Norma Foley said.

As the phased reopening of schools begins today, there have been questions on whether antigen testing should be used for both staff and pupils.

Antigen testing is much faster than the PCR tests used by the HSE for contact tracing, however, it is less reliable.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio 1’s Morning Ireland today, Minister Foley said that, although this rapid testing has not been recommended for use in schools by public health experts, if this advice changes the government will meet it.

"There are very mixed views on antigen testing,” she added.

Despite the new variant, which accounts for roughly 90pc of all Covid-19 cases, the Education Minister said that mask-wearing for primary school children has also not been recommended by Nphet.

However, she said this will also be kept under review.

When asked what new measures have been put in place in schools due to the new variant, Minister Foley said: “All measures have been reviewed by public health and we are reenergizing the measures that are in existence.

"But, there are some new measures including medical-grade masks have been introduced for all teachers and SNA’s.

“Temporary staffing arrangements have been put in place, offering greater flexibility for staff to avail of parental leave or other leave schemes.

“And high-risk teachers and SNA’s can be facilitated to work from home during this temporary phased returning period and that includes pregnant staff also. So a wide variety of measures have been introduced.”

The Education Minister also said that schools will be working with families who have decided not to send their children back to school, but that children are best served to be in school.

“It is advocated very clearly that children should be in school and that they are best served when they are in school,” she said.

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