The Minister for Education has said the Government is fully committed to schools reopening and is very confident of the infection control measures that have been put in place.

Norma Foley said that a huge amount of work has been done by school communities over the summer and her department has engaged regularly with public health to ensure that all recommendations needed are in place.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Ms Foley said: "We are confidently looking forward to the reopening."

She said an order of carbon dioxide monitors for schools has arrived and will be distributed in the coming days.

Ms Foley said the monitors are "an additional tool" to aid ventilation and the recommendation is that they should be portable and shared between classrooms at different times of the day.

It is expected that primary schools will receive between two and 20 devices each, depending on enrolment.

Second level schools will receive between 20 and 35, again depending on the size of the school.


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Ms Foley also said that pilot antigen testing is being carried out in the childcare sector and at third level, and said should it be recommended that antigen testing be rolled out in schools, she will be happy to comply with that.

She said priority was given to testing in schools last year where incidents of Covid-19 arose, and this will remain the case this year.

The minister said schools have continued to operate in the Delta variant environment throughout the summer with summer provisions and Leaving Certificate examinations being run.

She said that on return to school, significant measures will remain in place, with separate exits and entrances, one-way systems, hand cleaning, mask wearing in secondary schools and staggered school breaks.

Ms Foley said the Department of Health has recommended the continued use of masks at secondary level and not primary.

However, should this advice change, then the recommendations will be implemented in primary schools.

Yesterday, Coláiste Éamann Rís in Cork city was one of the first schools in the country to welcome back students after the summer break.

Principal Aaron Wolfe said health and safety concerns for students and staff were paramount.