Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Questions (457, 458, 459)

Colm Burke

Question:

457. Deputy Colm Burke asked the Minister for Health if consideration will be given to a review of the current contact tracing guidelines for schools in cases in which a pupil who tests positive for Covid-19 and the parents of the pupil are informed of same by the HSE but there is no legal obligation on the parents to advise the school (details supplied); if the current guidelines will be changed regarding this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2232/21]

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Colm Burke

Question:

458. Deputy Colm Burke asked the Minister for Health if consideration will be given to reviewing the current waiting time in cases in which a parent with a Covid-19 positive child consents to public health sharing this information with the principal of his or her child's school, given that there is often a 16-to-24-hour time lag (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2233/21]

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Colm Burke

Question:

459. Deputy Colm Burke asked the Minister for Health if a review will be carried out on transparency regarding Covid-19 positive pupils in a school setting (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2234/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 457 to 459, inclusive, together.

There is ongoing consideration given by the Government to policy in relation to the management of Covid-19 in school settings.

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre has published Guidance for Educational Settings relating to the management of Covid-19 in school settings. This guidance, which includes protocols relating to the management of close contacts, is available at https://www.hpsc.ie/a-z/respiratory/coronavirus/novelcoronavirus/guidance/educationguidance/

The Deputy may wish to note that schools must have a Covid-19 Response Plan and a Covid policy in place. Up-to-date Government advice and resources for schools, parents and students in the context of COVID-19, including advice on Covid-19 planning is published at https://www.gov.ie/backtoschool.

Where a school is informed of a pupil or staff member who has tested positive for Covid-19, if the case was in the school during the infectious period, the HSE endeavour to contact school management the same day, although this may be the following day in some cases. When public health doctors make contact with the school, they will proceed to undertake a Public Health Risk Assessment (PHRA). Core to the PHRA will be assessing the likelihood of onward transmission from the case identified, and this will inform their further actions. The risk assessment applied in school settings may be dynamic and change as new information becomes available, and the testing strategy may evolve as information unfolds.

The Public Health advice remains that a confirmed case, anyone awaiting the result of a test and close contacts of confirmed cases, should restrict their movements and follow the advice provided by the HSE which is available at www.hse.ie. Restricting your movements means staying at home as much as possible to avoid contact with other people, avoiding social situations and staying at home or in your accommodation, as much as possible.

Should persons have concerns over a confirmed case not adhering to the Public Health advice to restrict movement, this can be reported to the relevant HSE Department of Public Health, who can take appropriate action under the provisions of the Health Act 1947, as amended. Contact details for the HSE's regional Departments of Public Health are available on the HSE website.