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GPs inundated by demands for cert to say child is Covid-free in creche

Confusion remains over guidelines issued to schools

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Schools are likely to look very different when they reopen

Schools are likely to look very different when they reopen

Dr Colm Henry has written to GPs

Dr Colm Henry has written to GPs

Colin Keegan

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Schools are likely to look very different when they reopen

GPs have been inundated with requests from parents whose children are attending creche for a letter certifying the youngster does not have Covid-19, it has emerged.

Many creche owners have been demanding the letters from parents since they reopened in recent weeks.

It is a hint at some of the confusion around children and worries about their susceptibility to the infection that is likely to be seen in various forms when schools reopen.

It highlights the need for clear guidelines - which we are told are on the way - to give advice to parents about symptoms and when to keep a child at home .

HSE chief medical adviser Dr Colm Henry has written to GPs to say there is guidance for creches on the Health Protection Surveillance Centre website and there is no requirement for a GP letter.

Isolation

"Definitive GP certification of non-infectivity is not possible," he said, adding that guidelines should be followed.

There will need to be clearer advice for schools before they reopen.

Meanwhile, guidelines for schools on responding to a suspected case of the virus suggest that ideally the person should be put in an isolation area as an assessment is made whether they should to go home.

However, if a room is not available, the child should be kept at least two metres away from other children.

The child cannot be taken home on public transport.

The advice says that the virus is spread by droplets and "is not airborne" so physical separation is enough to reduce the risk of spread to others even if they are in the same room.

The assertion that the virus is not airborne is disputed by several scientists, including a number of Irish experts.

The guidelines also set out how some teachers with health issues may not be able to return to school. They include teachers who are over 70, even those who may be fit and well.

The guidelines also advise against a return for teachers who are having treatment for cancer, have cancers of the blood, have respiratory conditions like cystic fibrosis, have a serious heart condition or are pregnant.

The scramble to get a seat at the back of the bus will be a thing of the past when schools reopen at the end of August.

The once unwritten rule of 'same seats on the way back, lads' will now be official.

Students using school buses will have to sit in the same pre-assigned seat every day.

Siblings who once sat far apart will now be asked to sit together. Students who do not have a brother or sister on board the school bus will be given a buddy from within their class bubble or pod.

The Government's roadmap paints a picture of what the new normal will look like for students, but in reality, it will be far from normal.

Pre-Covid, parents would roll their eyes if a child asked to stay at home with a head cold. Now, it's a requirement.

Guide

"Nobody should go to school if they are unwell or any members of their household are unwell with symptoms consistent with Covid-19," the advice says.

It aims to guide students from their home to the inside of the classroom, and back to the gates at home-time.

Getting to school early for a chat or to kick around a football before class will no longer be possible.

The advice is clear: "Students should head straight to their designated classroom. Limit interaction on arrival and departure and in hallways and other shared areas."

Students embracing each other after the summer holidays will now be discouraged.

Hand-to-hand greetings and hugs aren't allowed. Instead of shaking hands, students will be pumping hand sanitiser.

On a positive note, those who often had to pop into the principal's office for a late note may avail of the staggered arrival times.