Antigen testing in schools welcome but why the delay?

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD
10 November 2021

Labour education spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has welcomed the decision to rollout antigen testing in schools for close contacts, but questioned the delay in doing so. Deputy Ó Ríordáin said the Department has consistently been dragged into decisions with many school communities feel that they are not being listened to by the Department.

Deputy Ó Ríordáín said:

“We welcome the announcement of antigen testing being used in schools and while we await the detail on how this will be rolled out, it’s a step in the right direction. Antigen testing will provide an extra layer of protection and assurance for school communities. It should have been used sooner to protect staff and students alike.

“My question is why did this take so long for the Department to sign off on? The Ferguson Report recommended that antigen tests be used in situations like schools in April and it is something that many of us in the Opposition have been calling for for some time. Every tool must be used to keep schools safe and control the virus. Antigen tests will help to find and isolate any new cases of Covid in the classroom. It’s deeply frustrating to school communities that this decision has taken so long.

“The Department is dragged through every Covid-related issue kicking and screaming rather than listening to school staff and communities and leading by example. We’ve seen this before with pregnant teachers and with the reopening of schools in September. It needs to stop happening now. The Department must place trust in schools to do the right thing.

“We know that these are proven safe ways of keeping us all safe. While I welcome the rollout of antigen testing for schools, it’s deeply disheartening that, once again, the Department came to this conclusion after weeks of campaigning by school communities. It is incumbent for the Department to show leadership on matters relating to Covid.”

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