Covid-19 – latest updates

The INTO meets with the education stakeholders and the Department of Education on a regular basis to raise the concerns of members and secure additional clarity and resources as required. A brief update on key issues is provided below.

Substitute cover for Droichead PST Training

The Department of Education has confirmed that substitute cover will be provided for Droichead PST training.

Standardised testing

Following last week’s meeting with the Department of Education, schools are advised that standardised testing should not be done until after Easter 2021.

Medmark reviews

Statistics on the number of Medmark Reviews and outcomes from this process and on the number of cases and tests in schools will be provided to stakeholders regularly.

Schools with staff in the very high-risk category are encouraged to register such staff members with Local Education Centres so the matching process between teachers working from home and pupils absent due to underling health conditions has not advanced.

PPE and sanitisation equipment in schools

The Department’s Planning and Building section is monitoring the level of drawdown of PPE and sanitisers from the procurement portal. The second moiety of the grant for the period January to June 2021 is expected to issue in late December/ early January.

The HPSC has revised guidance on PPE for those working in Special Education settings and the department will publish this soon. This should give more clarity regarding medical grade face masks and related matters.

Enhanced cleaning

INTO has secured clarity from the department that there is no requirement for a board of management to deep clean a school after a confirmed case. The regular enhanced cleaning is sufficient.

Testing and tracing

HSE has begun to administer batches of tests from schools where a cluster of infection emerges. These will be processed quickly through the fast queue system.

Valid enrolment

INTO sought immediate clarification on enrolment issues for schools following concerns expressed by members. The Department of Education has agreed to publish an update on this matter later this week.

Remote learning

As we endeavour to prepare for an uncertain future, we have sought further information on remote learning arrangements if/when these are required. The Department has agreed to publish updated guidance on this later this week.

Department FAQs

The Department is expected to issue revised FAQs on Covid-19 leave to schools later this week. INTO will provide an update when these are released.

Further updates will be published when available.