I propose to take Questions Nos. 103, 106 and 107 together.
The Department of Health and the HSE, working in collaboration with the Department of Education announced last week a programme in which antigen tests will be made available to children in primary schools.
Parents and Guardians of a primary school child, who is a confirmed case of COVID-19 following a PCR test, will be asked to inform their school’s principal. The school principal will then inform the parents of other children in the pod of a confirmed case. No personal details of the child will be shared. These parents will be provided with the option to receive free antigen tests for their child, which they will be able to order for delivery to their home. These tests can be ordered from a helpline operated by the HSE. The tests will be sent to the children’s parents by the HSE.
It is important that parents inform principals quickly if a child receives a PCR ‘detected’ test for Covid-19. By doing this, the choice to participate in antigen testing can be offered to other parents quickly. It is important that everyone continues to follow all the public health advice in using this new programme
It is not mandatory for children to participate in antigen testing. Children who are in a pod where a child has tested positive for Covid-19 can continue to attend school, whether they participate in antigen testing or not. Where two or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 occur in a class, within a seven-day period, outside of a single pod, antigen testing will be offered to the full class. Pod size can vary depending on the class size and the infrastructure.
The programme will commence on or before 29 November.