Statement from the Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan

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This time of year, is traditionally an exciting and busy time in the lives of our children and young people as preparations are made to return to education in all manner of settings. Education is at the heart of our society and plays a fundamental role in the development and wellbeing of our children and young people; this is particularly true for children and young people who have special educational needs, are disadvantaged or who may have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

This year, these preparations are being made at a time when our country is experiencing a very high incidence of COVID-19. It is important to remember that our experience to date is that the school environment was not a major source of disease transmission and that school reopening  did not have a significant effect on the incidence of COVID-19 in children. In fact, any increase in incidence among children is often linked to the events that occur around school as much as the events that occur within school.

I am conscious of the considerable efforts already made by many families, parents and school staff so that schools can reopen. It is important that we continue to socialise safely and continue to adhere to the public health measures we are all so familiar with and that our schools have successfully implemented…. wash hands or use hand sanitiser, wear a mask if this is what is recommended in your school environment, keep your distance and avoid crowds.

It is important to be aware of the symptoms of COVID-19 to be aware of and do not send your child to school if they display any. These are cough, fever, headache, sore throat and blocked or runny nose. If your child displays any of these symptoms, support them to isolate and contact your GP for advice and to arrange a test if appropriate. These measures will prevent transmission of the virus to others.

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