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363 teachers in Kerry diagnosed with Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic

Crisis escalates in schools

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Kerry and Limerick INTO Representative Anne Horan.

Kerry and Limerick INTO Representative Anne Horan.

Kerry and Limerick INTO Representative Anne Horan.

kerryman

Public Health have “abandoned” schools across the county as they struggle to deal with the ever-growing crisis with increasing cases amongst pupils and staff.

A total of 363 teachers in Kerry have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic and 23 teachers were diagnosed with the virus in the first two weeks of November according to the INTO Kerry representative, Anne Horan. 

She was speaking as the Covid-19 crisis continues to escalate across the county with 73 pupils also confirmed as having Covid-19 in Kerry during the first two weeks of November. 

The Covid-19 statistics for Kerry schools in the first two weeks of November come from an INTO national survey carried out amongst just over 3,000 schools but only reflect a portion of the cases in the country as only one third of schools responded to the survey. The stark reality of the situation is the Covid-19 crisis is much worse in schools across the county. 

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This week amore than 30 teachers are understood to be unable to teach in school due to the virus and there are Covid-19 cases in several schools across the county. 

"The Covid figures are expected to be much higher as not all schools responded to the survey,” said Ms Horan. 

She said schools are in ‘crisis’ and have been abandoned by public health. 

The lack of teaching personnel is putting increased pressure on schools with not enough substitutes available to step in meaning that schools do not have enough staff to operate forcing SNA’s or administrative principals to step into the breach depleting vital resources.

Talks are underway this week with teacher training colleges for the release of student teachers to step into to rescue schools who have reached crisis point. 

The ending of contact tracing in schools and the lack of public health risk assessments have led to escalating of positive Covid-19 cases in schools according to the INTO with calls for public health to return to the classroom and help schools. 

"The numbers of positive case in children aged 5-12 have trebled since September 27 when public health support was withdrawn. It can’t be a coincidence,” claimed Ms Horan. 

She said that the introduction of Antigen testing for pupils who are deemed close contacts of a positive in schools which is hoped will begin next week is a welcome step but must be in place quickly. 

A call has also been made by the INTO to re-introduce contact tracing and to include teachers in booster roll-out as soon as the most vulnerable, elderly and other front-line workers receive their boost shots. 


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