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Principal warns of ‘shocking’ Covid spread as more than 40 pupils test positive for virus in days

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Education Minister Norma Foley said it would be ‘safe’ to return to school after the mid-term. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Education Minister Norma Foley said it would be ‘safe’ to return to school after the mid-term. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Education Minister Norma Foley said it would be ‘safe’ to return to school after the mid-term. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

A primary school principal is warning parents of the ‘shocking’ speed of the coronavirus, as it rips through her school community like a wildfire.

More than 40 people – mostly pupils – have tested positive for the coronavirus in a matter of days following the initial infection flagged at Cullina National School in Beaufort, Co Kerry.

In a letter to parents, principal Leona Twiss said this week it was ‘shocking’ how fast the virus is spreading.

“At this point, over 30 positive cases (pupils, parents and younger/older siblings not in our school) have been made known to us. It is shocking how quickly the virus has spread,” she wrote.

The outbreak at the school came as Killarney’s rate shot from 361.4 to 567.4 per 100,000.

One in five of the school’s 160 pupils now have Covid-19 in what has been described as a “large outbreak” by public health officials.

But the school is still set to reopen fully on Monday, after the mid-term break, based on advice from the Department of Education and the HSE.

Last week Education Minister Norma Foley said it would be ‘safe’ to return to school after the mid-term.

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This advice has been reiterated by the Department of Education this week.

“All decisions as to appropriate actions following a confirmed case or outbreak will be made by HSE Public Health,” a spokesperson for the Department said.

The school’s letter said some vaccinated parents have tested positive; children with no symptoms have tested positive; and people with several negative home antigen test results even received a positive PCR result.

Ms Twiss is now urging parents to ensure they get a PCR test from the HSE.

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She wrote: “Please don’t rely on antigen tests, particularly if your child has symptoms and please remember if a member of a household has symptoms and is waiting for their PCR result, all children in that household (who haven’t received their vaccine) must remain at home until the result of the PCR test is known.”

Since September, children who do not have symptoms of Covid and who are in close contact with a confirmed case in their schools do not have to restrict their movements and do not need to be tested.


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