Elaine Keogh

Schools may have returned but children and young people should not be mixing with others outside of school time, according to a specialist in public health medicine.

Dr Sean Denyer, from the Department of Public Health in the HSE said with return of the normality of the daily school routine, “it is important that we do not also see a return to play dates, car-pooling, coffee gatherings and birthday parties.

“These social gatherings are unfortunately contributing to the spread of Covid-19 among children, young people and subsequently in schools,” he said.

Controlled environment

Dr Denyer added the classroom is a controlled environment with hand hygiene, physical distancing and seating arrangements, as well as “appropriate ventilation and environmental cleaning.”

“School staff wear face coverings and secondary school students wear face coverings unless exempt for health reasons. Secondary school students should wear a face covering on transport to and from school,” Dr Denyer said.

He said schools have been doing “a heroic job” during the pandemic and parents and carers can help support them to decrease the number of Covid-19 cases.

“We need now, more than ever, to continue to follow the public health guidelines and keep everyone safe. Children and young people should not be mixing with others outside of school time.

“Please talk to your child or young person about the importance of not gathering in groups and adhering to public health advice,” he said.

The HSE also said it is advising parents and carers not to organise parties, sleepovers and visits to other people’s houses and to be conscious of public health guidelines during school runs and pick-ups at school gates.

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