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Education Minister said Government is ready to make arrangements for antigen testing in schools, if recommended by NPHET

DUBLIN: The Minister of Education has indicated that the government will consider setting up a system for antigen testing in schools. Education Minister Norma Foley told the Oireachtas Education Committee that if the proposal were supported by health experts, there would be no barrier to rapid antigen testing in schools. The Minister said that antigen testing would definitely be considered if recommended by the NPHET.

Mark Ferguson of the Science Foundation Ireland is preparing a report on conducting antigen testing in several areas. This report is being prepared ahead of the wider re-opening of the community. But schools were not considered in this report.

The minister said public health experts had reviewed the current COVID control measures in schools. The current guideline for schools is to keep the windows open before and at the end of the class. There is a team of experts to advice on areas of ventilation.

Millions of students are returning to schools this week after a break from remote learning. In the coming weeks, the government expects this number to rise again, with 260,000 primary students returning to schools. Also, the fifth year students will arrive by March 15. The decision will depend on the progress made in reducing community transmission. The remaining post-primary students will return on April 12 after the Easter holidays.

Meanwhile, the Minister informed the Committee that the remote learning was very successful. At the same time, concerns were raised in the committee that some special students would only be able to return to school after six weeks.

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