‘No plans’ to shut schools early as part of Covid-19 response

‘No plans’ to shut schools early as part of Covid-19 response

The Department of Education says there are no plans to alter the Christmas school break, or to close early. 

It comes as a professor of immunology suggested closing schools this Friday in order to limit the spread of Covid-19. 

Professor Christine Loscher told RTÉ it would be “sensible” to close schools early to act as a circuit-breaker for children. 

On Tuesday evening, a spokesman for the Department of Education confirmed there were “no plans” to alter the school break at Christmas. 

“There is no evidence to suggest that extending school holidays has a public health rationale,” he said. 

There is a requirement for primary schools to do 183 school days and for post-primary schools to do 167 school days.

“The scheduling of the school holiday periods during the academic years is agreed between the managerial authorities of schools, the teacher unions and the department for the purposes of standardising breaks at Christmas, Easter and mid-term.” 

On Tuesday, the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) called on the Government to immediately initiate a review of the first term of the primary school year. 

“It behoves the Department of Education to provide professional advice, guidance and support to boards of management, who will have to make key decisions regarding the improvement of air quality in their schools,” said John Boyle, INTO general secretary. 

“The department must also provide bespoke solutions quickly for schools who cannot fully remediate ventilation issues through the use of the minor works grant announced this week.

“We call for a dedicated team of department officials to be available to support schools and to carry out technical assessments where these are necessary so that this important work can be completed within a few weeks of schools reopening in January.”

Vaccine centre opening hours to increase

Meanwhile, the vaccination centre at City Hall in Cork will operate 12 hours a day this weekend, and these longer hours are expected to be extended.

It is understood that some large mass vaccination centres around the country were told on Tuesday afternoon to prepare for running 12 hours a day, seven days from the end of this week.

A spokeswoman for the HSE in Cork and Kerry said on Tuesday that “the three vaccination centres across the region [at Cork’s City Hall; at Bantry Primary Care Centre and at the Tralee Vaccination Centre in Monavalley] are all adding to their staff numbers and extending their opening hours.” 

On Saturday and Sunday, City Hall in Cork will offer walk-in boosters “8am to 8pm” for all over-50s and healthcare workers over 30.

She said: “Opening hours at

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