The World Health Organisation‘s special envoy on Covid-19 says the time has come to think about reopening schools in Ireland.
Dr. David Nabarro said today that “You have to balance the risk. Children staying at home, missing school – that is going to have a long-term impact on their future ability to earn and to be strong in society.
“At the same time, we do believe that children, although they can get the virus, are not anything like as important at spreading the virus as some other members of the population – so we have got to give it a try,” he said.
However, Dr Nabarro acknowleged that teachers must be confident they can manage the return and that children understand social distancing.
“So, I am thinking the time has come, especially as you have got the numbers of cases being suppressed and you have got the defences building up, the time has come to gradually start reopening schools.”
Given Ireland’s progress on suppressing the virus to date,
Dr Nabarro said that he had to be careful not to “overstep” his remit as a WHO representative, “because so much depends on whether the teachers are comfortable and whether the parents are happy to send their kids back to school”.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said on May 13th that “among the safest things” the State can do in the coming months is to reopen schools for children, raising fresh questions over the time-line for reopening schools and childcare facilities.
The Department of Education says it will follow the advice of health officials when it comes to reopening schools. Education officials say they take their advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team and are looking at what other countries are doing.