The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation is calling for changes to contact tracing in schools to be deferred until reliable data is available.
The abandonment of contact tracing of asymptomatic pupils identified as close contacts “could cause mass confusion” for school principals, staff, parents and children, the union believes.
From Monday 27 September, contact tracing will be stopped for close contacts in childcare facilities and primary education. This does not include special education facilities.
“Testing of asymptomatic close contacts in childcare facilities and primary education will no longer be necessary,” NPHET announced yesterday.
Children aged 12yrs or under who have been identified as close contacts in childcare, educational settings, or other non-household settings and who are asymptomatic will no longer be required to restrict movements.
INTO has identified a disparity between the official HSE figures which show over four thousand children (aged 5 – 12) contracting Covid in the last fortnight, compared with the much smaller number identified in weekly school testing reports issued by the HSPC since schools reopened.
INTO said: “The HSE reported yesterday that between September 6 and 19 there were 4170 positive cases in 5- to 12-year-olds, yet the data provided by the HPSC covering August 29 to September 18 shows Covid detected in only 741 children after mass testing in 788 primary schools. However, two weeks ago, the HSE reported outbreaks in more than 800 primary schools.”
The union is proposing that any changes should be made from Monday November 1st when schools reopen after mid-term break.
“This would allow time for better data to be obtained and sufficient time for considered analysis and to allow for the proposed changes to be implemented in an orderly fashion,” the union said.