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School sends home entire class after positive case

14-day restrictions for Rathcoole students

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Holy Family National School

Holy Family National School

Colin Keegan

Holy Family National School

Pupils from a Dublin primary school will have to restrict their movements for the next two weeks after a student tested positive for Covid-19.

Holy Family National School in Rathcoole, which has nearly 500 students, sent home one of its classes yesterday after learning a pupil was diagnosed with coronavirus.

It is the first confirmed student case in the Republic since schools reopened.

An email circulated to parents said that while everyone was being notified about this case, the school "will not be informing all parents of each individual further case unless instructed by public health to do so".

Under HSE guidelines schools do not have to alert all parents if there has been a confirmed case. Only the "close contacts" of the student are told.

Symptoms

Parents were also told that siblings of students in the class sent home can still attend school if they are not showing symptoms.

"As you are aware, public health has declared that these cases will be inevitable in schools, and it is therefore inevitable there will be more such cases in the coming year," the email to parents said.

"If any pupil becomes symptomatic you should contact your GP."

Students were asked to remain at home for 14 days and advised that live lessons will be held over Zoom in the meantime.

"I wish to commend public health officials who acted speedily on this matter and our school community are very encouraged with the efficiency of public health officials and their thorough, comprehensive and speedy intervention into this case," said principal Colm Byrne.

"The school has been following all public health protocols for the reopening of schools and I wish to thank the families who have been very supportive of the school's reopening.

"The school will continue to follow public health and Department of Education & Skills directives to schools in all matters, now and into the future."

The school reopened last Wednesday and will remain open, Mr Byrne confirmed.

A spokesperson for the HSE said it cannot comment on individual cases or outbreaks, but said when a case of Covid-19 is linked to a school, "health professionals discuss directly with the person, or family as appropriate, and asks them about their contacts".

"Public health professionals will also discuss the matter directly with the educational facility, undertaking a public health risk assessment," the spokesperson added.

Education Minister Norma Foley said it would be inappropriate for her to comment on an individual case but said the public health guidelines are "very clear".

She said in terms of contact tracing she would not place the burden on any principal or board of management and it is a matter for public health.

A primary school in Co Armagh, just north of the Louth border, also sent a class home after a child tested positive for Covid-19.

Donal Keenan, principal of Jonesborough Primary School, said the child's classmates may be required to self-isolate for 14 days.

In a letter to parents, Mr Keenan said a pupil tested positive for Covid-19 on Friday.

Minister Foley will today appear before the Oireachtas Covid-19 committee as it examines how the reopening of schools has operated on the ground.

Representatives of parents and teacher groups are expected to make a range of submissions and identify areas of concern.