Teachers want rapid testing of suspected Covid cases in schools as a matter of urgency after more than 50 schools were found to have cases of the virus.
Teaching staff have serious concerns about what actions ought to be taken once a case of the virus is suspected in a school, said Kieran Christie, general secretary of the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland (ASTI).
Primary teachers are also seeking action to ensure priority testing is provided for teachers to avoid the disruption caused when a teacher can't attend school.
"Obviously when a case emerges in a school, there are legitimate concerns within the school community," said the ASTI leader.
"Decisions relating to confirmed cases of Covid-19 in schools are made by the HSE Departments of Public Health. The ASTI has sought to discuss a range of issues with the Health Protection Surveillance Centre but a meeting has been declined," he told the Sunday Independent.
"We believe clarity is essential so that school communities - including parents, students and teachers - know what to expect and understand the rationale behind decisions."
The questions that the teachers' leaders want the health officials to answer include:
• Why is it not automatically assumed that a whole class will be deemed to be close contacts when a Covid case is confirmed?
• Why is there no blanket policy on testing entire year groups and classes in place?
• Why has there been no implementation of expert advice that the entire class of an infected child be sent home to isolate for two weeks and to undergo testing if a single child is infected?
The teachers' union will "vigorously pursue" these matters and rapid testing of suspected cases, he said.
Primary teachers are also seeking priority testing for teachers in the event of suspected infections.
A spokesman for the Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO) said swift contact tracing was also vital for the welfare of pupils, teachers and other staff.
He said the INTO raised these concerns again in recent days with the Department of Education.
Department officials gave earlier undertakings to raise these matters with the Department of Health and the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet).
"The issue of priority testing goes to the heart of keeping schools open. If a teacher is sent home to get a test and they are waiting five or six days, they have to have substitute teachers come in. If the subs can't come in, the class might have to be sent home - which is hugely disruptive.
"So the quicker a teacher can get a negative test and be brought back into the classroom, the better it is for everyone.
"Bearing in mind, of course, the vast majority of all tests are negative," the spokesman said.
Michael Gillespie, general secretary of the Teachers' Union of Ireland, said the supply of substitute teachers is already starting to be a problem, particularly in Dublin where it is too expensive for many substitute teachers to live.
On Friday, a school in Co Carlow was missing four teachers because of Covid testing and illness, but no substitutes were available.
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