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School stress Government wants to avoid ‘large-scale’ shutdown of schools

Roderic O’Gorman said National Public Health Emergency Team guidance states that childcare settings and schools are safe.

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Roderic O’Gorman said the decision was taken to reduce movement this week (Niall Carson/PA)

Roderic O’Gorman said the decision was taken to reduce movement this week (Niall Carson/PA)

Roderic O’Gorman said the decision was taken to reduce movement this week (Niall Carson/PA)

The Minister for Children has said the Government wants to avoid a “large-scale” shutdown of schools, but that closures are being kept under review.

Roderic O’Gorman said the long shutdown of schools at the beginning of the pandemic was not good for children.

He added that health guidance from the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) states that childcare settings and schools are safe.

The Government made the decision to postpone to reopening of schools until next Monday, January 11.

The levels of incidence of Covid in schools and creches have been low compared to other sectors of societyRoderic O'Gorman

Mr O’Gorman said the decision was taken to reduce movement this week.

“The public health guidance has always been that childcare settings are safe and that continues to be the public health guidance,” he told RTE Morning Ireland.

“They are safe because of the huge work that childcare providers and professionals have undertaken since the reopening to make sure the various health measures for creches and childcare facilities are implemented.

“The levels of incidence of Covid in schools and creches have been low compared to other sectors of society.

“The advice from Nphet is that schools are safe to open. The Government took a decision last week, that in light of the particularly high levels of Covid, we want to make a sustained effort to reduce movement this week and as such the reopening of schools was postponed.

“That situation is under constant review. We have always expressed the view that we want to keep childcare facilities and schools open.

“The long shutdown of schools at the beginning was not good for children.

“We want to avoid a large-scale shutdown but we are keeping the situation under review.”

He said the number of Covid-19 cases is concerning and there is a “real sense of nervousness” among the public.

Childcare providers and creches are allowed to reopen from January 4 to children of essential workers.

However, the list of essential workers is extensive and there have been calls from childcare providers to refine the definition of essential workers.

Mr O’Gorman admitted it was a complicated list, but said that creating a separate list for the childcare sector would not be beneficial.

“I think that would have create additional confusion,” he added.

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