Coronavirus: No plans for large-scale school closures ‘at this point’

Department of Education says decision to shut schools would be made on public health advice

The Department of Education has said there are no plans for large-scale school closures “at this point” in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

While there have been rumours circulating on social media, a spokesman said they will be guided by public health advice regarding Covid-19, which at present is not to close schools.

"The Department of Education and Skills is liaising closely with the Department of Health on a continuing basis," a spokesman said.

“Any decision to close schools will be made on public health advice. There is no such advice at this point.”

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The spokesman said that any decisions regarding responses to the virus are proportionate, necessary and based on specific public health advice.

“No other response is appropriate,” he said.

Public health professionals will contact schools if there is any action to be taken and schools have been advised not to take unilateral action.

“The Department is deeply conscious of the significance of decisions concerning school closures, and the potential impact any such decisions would have on parents, families and the wider community,” the spokesman said.

“This is an evolving situation and the health advice is being updated on a daily basis. The Departments of Education and Skills and Department of Health will continue to work closely together on this issue.”

While the department has declined to comment on many schools are closed due to the coronavirus threat, it is understood that at least four schools have been closed since last week.

The schools - one in the Dublin area and three in the west - have been closed since last week on the advice of health authorities after individuals tested positive for coronavirus.

Schools, pre-schools, higher education and parents, meanwhile, have been provided with advice and guidance in respect of Covid-19.

There is guidance on the department's website (www.education.ie) sets out precautionary steps to take to help reduce the risk of spreading the virus, as well as advice on cases where staff or students should self-isolate.

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