The primary teachers' union INTO has called for the publication of a detailed breakdown of the incidence of Covid-19 in schools amid what it said is increasing concern that public health measures to protect teachers are inadequate.

The union wants the exact number of school staff who have tested positive since September to be published with a breakdown by job and school type.

It has called for the publication of medical evidence to support the continuation of attendance in schools of staff who are pregnant or in the high-risk health category.

The union has also asked for a clear explanation of the difference between a close contact and casual contact in a school setting.

It said when a HSE risk assessment is conducted following confirmation of a positive case then there must be direct consultation with all staff associated with the class in which the case is based.

In a statement, INTO General Secretary John Boyle said the Government had failed to deliver a fit for purpose, fast-tracked, sector-specific testing and tracing system in the seven weeks since schools reopened.

"This has resulted in principal teachers regularly having to initiate out of hours contact with families and staff members when they have been notified of positive tests," he said.

Latest coronavirus stories

The union reiterated calls for the immediate convening of education trade unions, management bodies and other education stakeholders to review and plan schools' responses to the pandemic.

INTO said the threat associated with rising levels of infection in communities is leading to apprehension and anxiety among school staff nationwide, especially in counties where Level 4 restrictions already apply.

It said the desire of teachers to keep schools open must be met with a firm commitment to keep schools safe.

The INTO has called for any moves to Level 4 to be accompanied by additional protective measures for primary and special schools.

These include the immediate banning of extra-curricular activities, the restriction of parents and guardians congregating at school grounds, a strict no-visitor policy for all schools, and the provision of funding to ensure that teachers and pupils can engage with remote learning.

It has also called for a review of mask-wearing for pupils and staff.

The union has repeated calls for clarity around what a move to Level 5 would mean for schools.

The Government’s Plan for Living with Covid-19 states that recommendations regarding the status of schools at Level 5 will be based "on the situation and evidence at the time".

"This situation is simply untenable. If our primary and special schools are to fully reopen after mid-term break and operate safely next month, government must ensure that the necessary protective measures and protocols are put in place within the next fortnight," Mr Boyle added.