The principal of a primary school in Wexford has said that CO2 monitors are not a sufficient measure to combat Covid-19 in schools and warned that HSE guidelines are not strong enough to prevent transmission within classrooms and schools.
Speaking to RTÉ radio’s News at One, Vickey Barron of the CBS primary school said that under HSE guidelines asymptomatic children were allowed to go to school even if they were close contacts.
However, a number of children in her school were found to be positive despite not having any symptoms.
“There were now 34 positive cases in the school,” she said.
“The HSE say this is not a school outbreak, but then what is it?
“It didn't come out of the walls. Somebody brought it into the room.
“It was obvious that there had been onward transmission within the classroom,” she said. There were 30 children in one room where there were problems with ventilation.
“We have been screaming that CO2 monitors are not enough,” she added.
In the classroom in question, when the CO2 monitors turned red, the teacher brought the children out of the room.
However, it was obvious that opening windows was not enough and that the room was not big enough for 30 children.
Closing the building
Ms Barron said that while the school building was closed remote classes were being delivered by teachers on learning platforms. Closing the building was the right call, she explained.
“We’re just sorry we didn’t do it sooner.”
“The flaw in the HSE’s guidelines was children not being considered close contacts,” she said.
When the number of children from the school testing positive began to rise last week, Ms Barron had filled out a contact tracing form, but she could not include some children as they would not be deemed as close contacts by the HSE under their guidelines.
In some cases it was not until parents took their asymptomatic children for private tests that the school became aware they were positive for coronavirus.
The school building will remain closed until after the midterm break which commences next Friday. Special events for Halloween such as a dress up day will go ahead after the midterm break, said Ms Barron.