Move Irish schools online for a period of time after the winter break

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We want all Irish schools to move online for a period of time after the extended Christmas break to prevent a sudden surge in Covid-19 cases related to schools. On the 1st of January, HSE CEO Paul Reid warned capacity in the health service will struggle to meet demands, and further pressure will be put on the health service with 1 million people (20% of the population) set to return to school on the 11th of this month.

On December 30th, it was announced that schools would not reopen until the 11th of January. However, we feel that it would be better if schools temporarily move online from the 11th of January for a period of time like numerous other countries have done, including Scotland, Wales and the Netherlands.

The most recent Covid outbreak figures, released on the 30th of December, showed schools are the 2nd highest outbreak place, behind only private homes. With students, teachers and other staff members mixing with their visiting family members over the festive period, it is likely that Covid will continue to spread rapidly. If students return to school on the 11th of January, Covid will spread through the schools at a previously unseen rate and, when spread to other students' vulnerable family members, could lead to severe illness and possibly death.

Latest data shows 2,606 children contracted Covid-19 in December. In the last week of December alone, cases in children accounted for approximately 16% of all cases. For the year, children made up 14% of all cases, however, since schools reopened children (11,147) made up 19.2% of all cases. Of all cases in children this year (12,314) over 11,000 cases are since September, which is an 89% increase.

We are asking Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly, Minister for Education Norma Foley and the Government to at least consider moving schools online for a period of time in January to prevent a rapid increase in cases and deaths, as well as to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed. 

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