THE CBS Primary School in Wexford town is to remain closed this coming week, having seen a major outbreak in Covid cases over the past week. Over 30 confirmed cases of Covid-19 are currently reported in the school, with more test results awaited in the coming days.
Following an emergency meeting of the Board of Management this evening (Sunday), the decision was taken that all school buildings are to remain closed “until after mid term break” which is due to to begin on October 25. Parents were informed just before 6 p.m. of the decision for the school gates to remain closed to pupils the following day, and teachers will now begin to reach out to parents and pupils to set up remote learning until after the mid term break.
In a letter to parents, School Principal Vicky Barron said: “We appreciate the short notice we are giving, but the Covid-19 situation has evolved in our school and we are taking this emergency measure as a vital health and safety precaution for all.”
The letter went on to state that the school had initially been informed of a positive case in 2nd class on Friday, October 8. Two days later, another case was confirmed, but several parents also alerted the school to positive antigen tests done at home.
Ms Barron explained that “As per HSE guidelines for Covid in schools, which changed at the end of September, children were no longer classed as close contacts and no contact tracing was carried out. Children without symptoms were allowed to attend school. As Monday, October 11 progressed, we were informed of two more positive cases in 2nd class and the Board of Management took the serious decision to close this class. It was only on Tuesday 12th that the HSE recognised that the entire class were close contacts and sent all children for testing.”
At this stage, under the HSE guidelines, siblings of these second class students were still advised to attend school, as they were only recognised as “casual contacts”, but as the week progressed there were 19 cases confirmed in 2nd class.
As things have progressed, a number of siblings throughout the school have now tested positive and many were at school during their infectious period. The principal was keen to stress that this was not the fault of the parents involved, who had strictly followed HSE guidelines.
On Friday of last week, 35% of students were out absent, most citing illness.
"As it stands, this evening we have over 30 cases of Covid-19 in our school and expect to hear more in the coming days,” Ms Barron said. “We have cleaned and fogged our school daily, but we have been told, again by the HSE, that there is little protection against the Delta airborne virus.”
Ms Barron was critical of the HSE guidance surrounding Covid cases in schools.
"It is very clear that there are serious flaws in the HSE guidance regarding protecting children in schools and the Board of Management has decided, in the best interests for the health and safety of all our pupils and their families, to implement these emergency measures. The building is closed but the teaching and learning will continue.
We take this opportunity to thank the many parents who have kept us so well informed. Their valuable communication with us has helped us reach this informed decision.”
Staff are to be onsite at the school during the week and will make contact with parents in due course. Finally the school wished all the pupils who have been diagnosed with Covid a speedy recovery and thanked parents for their patience and understanding.”