12,000 students are considered to be in close contact outside the school

About 12,000 children home from school are restricting their movements after they were classified as having close contact with a case of Covid-19.

This estimate was made by Health, Safety and Environment based on 700 primary schools and 500 secondary schools that have reported a case of Covid-19.

A HSE spokesperson said that for those who have tested positive for the virus, it is very likely that they caught the virus in the community rather than in schools.

“We will closely monitor the results of the close contact test so that we can better determine the impact of back to school.

“Before schools returned, there were approximately 4,000 cases per week for children aged 0-18, and many of those children will now also be in an education facility and therefore have a significant impact on schools’ testing operations.”

Niamh O’Berne, head of testing and research in Health, Safety and Environment, told RTÉ News that the situation in schools will be clearer by the end of the week once more testing is in place.

Under current school guidelines, fully vaccinated students do not need to be restricted in their movements or be tested if they have been in close contact with Covid-19, as long as they do not have any symptoms of the virus.

Those who have not been fully vaccinated must undergo a Covid-19 test and have their movements restricted for 14 days. They will be allowed to stop restricting their movements if they test negative for Covid-19 10 days after their last contact with the person who tested positive and they had no symptoms of the virus.

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HSE will be in contact with any student considered to be in close contact.

The executive said he’s also expanded his administrative team with 80 staff to help with the school’s response — checking details of close contacts and making sure people book for testing.

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