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From isolation areas to remote learning - the protocols that have been put in place in schools


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As the first case of a student contracting coronavirus since schools reopened has been confirmed in the State, what is the protocol in place for dealing with such an incident?


When should a student be sent to the isolation area?

If a pupil is displaying any symptoms of Covid-19, they should be sent to the designated isolation area and kept away from other students.

The school must then immediately contact the child's parent or guardian. The student should be given a mask while waiting to be brought home and a test should be arranged with their local GP.


If the case is confirmed, what happens next?

As seen with the case at the primary school in Dublin, students in the same class as the child diagnosed were asked to go home and restrict their movements for 14 days.

The school sent out an email to parents alerting them about the confirmed case. However, under HSE guidelines, schools do not have to contact all parents, only the "close contacts" of the affected students.

In an email to parents, the school said that while it was alerting all parents this time, it would not be doing so in the future.

It is up to the HSE to inform any staff/parents who have come into close contact with a diagnosed case via the contact tracing process.


What if the confirmed case has siblings in the school, can they still attend?

The Government's roadmap to reopening schools said if a child or anyone in their family is displaying symptoms, they should stay at home. Likewise, HSE guidelines say that anyone living in the same household as someone infected should stay at home and restrict their movements for 14 days.

However, it appears siblings of people in the same class as a confirmed case can still attend unless they are symptomatic or directed not to by the HSE.


So, will everyone be tested?

According to health guidelines published, all pupils will not be automatically referred for testing if there's a confirmed case in the class.


Will children still have classes remotely if sent home?

The school should facilitate online learning where possible. For example, the school affected yesterday confirmed to parents it will be holding live Zoom lessons for the next two weeks.


Could a school be forced to close?

Closures may happen if evidence shows that a school has become a primary driver in the spread of coronavirus, or if there are a high number of cases.

Acting chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said cases in children were inevitable and the focus was to keep schools open.


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