Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Ceisteanna (838)

Paul McAuliffe


838. Deputy Paul McAuliffe asked the Minister for Health his plans to fast track the testing of teachers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26601/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Following the return of students to primary schools, secondary schools and various after school services at the end of August there is now a demand for testing of groups of students where a detected case has been linked to a school setting.

To cater for this new testing pathway a working and steering group were set up to define a clear and concise process for schools testing.  This group has developed a testing pathway, templates for data collection and communication materials with the Department of Education.

An interim process is currently in operation to support all ongoing schools testing. As of September 22nd, 115 schools have had/ are having some testing completed as a consequence of a Public Health Risk Assessment. From the 115 schools that had mass tests there have been an additional 62 detected cases have been identified over and above original cases. Circa 3,000 students and teachers have been involved in mass testing.

Outside of the mass testing process I've mentioned and any public health risk assessments in schools, since our current testing supply is meeting demand, there is no immediate plan for "fast-tracking" testing of teachers, as referred to by the Deputy.

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 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 www.gov.ie/backtoschool.