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campaign Parents 'must learn Delta symptoms' so they can keep Covid out of schools, teachers say

'We are aware of absolute reams of anecdotal evidence suggesting that symptomatic children continue to be sent to school'

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A major information campaign for parents about the symptoms of the Covid-19 Delta variant must be launched by the Department of Education as a matter of urgency, a teacher’s union demanded this weekend.

Pupils were being sent to school in recent weeks with symptoms that could be linked to the virus as the numbers of children becoming infected continues to climb, the Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO) said.

As schools reopen tomorrow, the INTO stated it had been urging the Department of Education for the past two months for a large-scale information campaign for parents on the variant’s "uncommon” symptoms. They have renewed their calls as figures shows infection levels among children rose 50pc in the past month.

“We have called on the Department of Education regularly since schools opened in September to run a really big, significant public health awareness campaign so that parents knew what are the symptoms of the Delta variant that they need to be aware of when sending a child to school,” an INTO spokesman said.

“They didn’t do that and we are aware of absolute reams of anecdotal evidence suggesting that symptomatic children continue to be sent to school.

“Oftentimes it is because parents don’t necessarily know what the uncommon symptoms of the Delta variant are. Symptomatic children cannot be sent to school. There has been confusion about what the symptoms are.

“It’s not too late to have a campaign now and we are repeating our call now,” he said.

A Department of Education spokesman said it has always sought to provide clear and concise public health advice and information to the whole school community throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The department is continuing to engage regularly with key education partners and with the Department of Health and the HSE in respect of the safe operation of schools during Covid-19,” he said.

“The department, together with the HSE, has stressed the importance of the message that anyone who is symptomatic for Covid-19 should not attend school.”

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He added: “The department will continue to work with the HSE and school communities to get that very important message out.

“The department is committed to working closely with all schools to ensure they are supported fully with the correct and most up to date public health advice at all times.”

INTO is continuing to call for consideration to be given to restore contact tracing to primary schools in light of the worsening Covid figures.

It wants public health risk assessments to be brought back into school life and it has called for the prompt rolling out of a pilot antigen testing programme in schools.

The Irish Primary Principals Network said school principals are “struggling to protect their school communities and this has become increasingly difficult and complex in the absence of timely public health advice”.

It has repeated its call for a return to contact tracing in schools as the numbers of infections continue to grow.

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