by Marian Duggan
A class at a Mayo primary school has been sent home following a confirmed case of coronavirus.
The school principal has confirmed that a pupil in one of the junior classes received notification of a positive Covid-19 test today.
Parents of the children in the affected class and the HSE were immediately notified and children were sent home.
It’s understood the pupils in the affected class have been directed to remain at home and restrict their movements for 14 days and parents were advised if their children begin to show symptoms of the virus to contact their GP immediately.
The East Mayo school, which the Western People is not naming to protect the privacy of students and teachers, is understood to be the first in Mayo to report a positive Covid test since schools re-opened almost a fortnight ago.
Meanwhile, other classes in the affected school will attend as normal in the coming days.
“The rest of the school will continue as normal as the children aren’t mixing,” said the principal.
Under current HSE guidelines all pupils in a class will not automatically be referred for testing if there is a confirmed coronavirus case.
The number of students in a class deemed “close contacts” of pupils who test positive for Covid-19 and referred for testing will be “variable” to each classroom and school, HSE guidance states.
In primary schools, where students are divided into smaller groups called “pods”, it is likely the other students in a pod would be deemed “close contacts” of a case. However, students in other pods in the classroom would not be, and as such would not be referred for testing.
Siblings of any pupils in the affected class may still go to school unless symptomatic or otherwise directed by their GP.
The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) is understood to be considering introducing new, less invasive tests for children, as more cases and clusters are expected in schools in the coming weeks.
The alternative tests would see swabs being taken from inside the cheek and nostril. It is understood the matter is still under discussion and it would be a number of weeks before NPHET make a decision on it.