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07 Dec 2021

Louth principal survey shows that over 100 primary school students were out sick with Covid-19 last week

Covid cases reported in almost half of Mid Ulster schools

Over 100 primary school students in Louth were off school with Covid-19 in recent weeks, according to a survey by the Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO).

At least 104 students in Louth were off sick with the virus in recent weeks, which represents 2% of the total number of primary school students in the county. There are a total of 5,279 primary school pupils in Louth.

The INTO compiled this survey between November 1st and November 16th, with 877 of 3,100 principals responding.

The national response also shows that 3.62% of staff (605 of 16,694) were reported as testing positive for Covid-19 during the same three week period.

On the survey, INTO General Secretary John Boyle said that it shines a light that the primary education sector is "creaking at the seams".

"Our snapshot survey shines a light on a primary education system that is creaking at the seams. Soaring transmission levels are an indictment of the premature removal of testing and contact tracing from our primary schools, and of the frustrating failure to move quickly to deploy antigen testing," said Mr Boyle.

"The cessation of public health risk assessments following primary school outbreaks, and the resulting unavailability of weekly reports detailing infection levels from 27 September, has concealed the escalation of positive case numbers among pupils and staff in primary schools.

"It simply cannot be a coincidence that the number of 5–12-year-old children contracting the virus has trebled since crucial public health supports were removed from the primary sector less than two months ago, abandoning teachers and principals to protect themselves and their unmasked, unvaccinated pupils from the impact of the highest wave of infection in their schools since the pandemic began."

He called for an "immediate review" of the Covid-19 response plan for both primary and special schools to address the increase in case numbers. 

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