Fewer than 10 schools in the Republic have experienced significant transmission of Covid-19, public health authorities believe.
While there have been a total of 110 recorded clusters or outbreaks detected in schools since they reopened in late August, authorities say transmission in most cases is likely to have happened outside school settings.
A briefing document prepared by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) and the Health Protection Surveillance Centre says very few schools are likely to have had “intraschool transmission” or cases spread within schools.
In cases where the virus has spread among pupils in school, it is “most likely” to have occurred in fewer than 10 schools. In these cases, the numbers of further spread have been “very low” with one or two cases mainly.
The document was prepared by public health authorities in response to a series of school safety questions from the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI).
The union is due to receive the results of a ballot for industrial action over concerns it has over the safety of staff towards the end of this week.
The ASTI has raised concerns over testing and tracing turnaround times and “inconsistencies” over the definition of close contacts in schools.
In the document, public authorities acknowledge that contact-tracing service have been under increased pressure with the recent rise in detected cases.
The median time to complete all contact-tracing calls in the past week or so was just under four days, it says.
Public health authorities also confirm that they intend to help expedite contact with schools through the establishment of 10 dedicated teams around the country linked to the public departments which will be the focal point for the local schools.
The response adds that the average number of close contacts is five for those tested as part of mass testing in schools.
On average, the number of close contacts per individual case in the community setting is 4.4.