There are growing calls for the Department of Education to close schools early for Christmas as Covid rips through the youth of Ireland.
Over 10,000 cases were reported in children last week – but only 100 or so were linked to schools according to HSPC data.
Incidence of Covid-19 has been highest among children aged 5-12, with the rate far above the national average.
Around about one in every 41 children in that cohort have tested positive within the last two weeks.
As a result, there are many people who want schools to shut early for Christmas, believing classrooms to be a major transmission point.
When are schools closing for Christmas in Ireland?
Schools are set to close on Wednesday, December 22.
They will reopen on Thursday, January 6.
Will schools close early for Christmas?
The Department of Education says there are no plans to lengthen the Christmas holidays, and schools will reopen as scheduled in January, despite Covid infection rates among children, in a statement made to the Irish Independent.
A spokesperson said: “The scheduling of the school holiday periods during the academic years is agreed between the managerial authorities of schools, the teacher unions and the Department for the purposes of standardising breaks at Christmas, Easter and mid-term.
“This is important to ensure certainty for the school community about the dates of school holidays.
“There are no plans to alter the school break at Christmas.”
What are other countries doing?
Denmark recently added four extra days to their Christmas breaks in schools.
Having initially meant to shut on the 20th, “virtual learning” will now apply from December 15, before the break itself begins on the 20th.
It’s a similar story in Belgium, where more than 4.5% of all children in primary schools tested positive for the virus in the past two weeks.
As a result, the Government began the Christmas break a week early – promising to use the time to get their booster programme extended to teachers who found themselves with less work as a result.