The Minister for Education has said she has "every confidence" that her department "has the capacity for the full reopening of schools in late August, early September".

Norma Foley said there is "ongoing engagement" with public health on the matter.

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Claire Byrne, the minister said "strong mitigation measures" will be in place in schools to ensure that they continue to be "controlled environments".

She said Covid-19 infection rates among children are at their highest when children are not at school and public health experts have pointed on "a consistent basis to schools being a very significantly controlled environment".

Minister Foley said the evidence of the safe running of the Leaving Certificate exams and enhanced summer camps shows that safe operation of education can be maintained.

She also said a framework is being put in place to allow schools to "draw down" CO2 monitors and is confident there will be enough monitors by the start of the new school year.

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Ms Foley said there is a recognition for catch-up and support systems to be put in place for students during the new school year, and there are negotiations with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in relation to this.

The Taoiseach has also insisted the Government is "fully committed" to reopening schools after the summer break.

Micheál Martin said "additional precautions" will be put in place to allow for the return to classrooms.

Speaking in Cork, the Taoiseach said he "spoke to the Deputy CMO last week and to NPHET" and he said: "We are fully committed to the schools opening, taking additional precautions in doing that, and the vaccination helps enormously on that front."

"So, the schools will be reopening," he added.

Vaccines for children 'still being considered' - Foley

On the issue of vaccines for children, Minister Foley said the "expertise" lies with the National Immunisation Advisory Committee, from which the department will take guidance.

"I have received confirmation that the 16 to 18-year-old cohort should be in a position for online registration in the coming days, and I have been advised that the 15-year-olds cohort, are still being considered by NIAC and there has been no definitive timeline given."

All staff in schools will also have been offered a Covid-19 vaccine by the start of the new school term.

ASTI Deputy General Secretary Diarmaid de Paor said that while the trends relating to the Delta variant are "worrying", his union will continue to be guided by advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET).

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, he said the Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland will be "monitoring the situation carefully" but "at the moment the advice is that it is safe to go back to school, so we will follow that advice".

He said it was "reassuring" to hear from Minister Foley that all teachers will have been offered a vaccine by the time school is due to return in late August.

Teachers' Union of Ireland President Martin Marjoram said the union had followed public health advice "rigorously".

He said there will be a "small number of teachers who won't have been vaccinated", but these "ongoing concerns will be addressed" when the union has the opportunity to meet with the department.

Mr Marjoram said he is pleased that C02 monitors will be rolled out on a continual basis to schools.

Meanwhile, a consultant in infectious diseases at St Vincent's Hospital in Dublin has said that the vaccination of children should not be mandatory, but parents and children must be given a choice.

Professor Paddy Mallon said that offering vaccines would assist a safer return of schools, but no vaccines have yet been approved for under 12s.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, he said that the mass vaccination of the adult population may weaken the seeding of infections in schools, but it is still a challenge and a difficult situation.

Additional reporting Fergal O'Brien