Over 46,000 children contracted Covid-19 between March 2020 and July 2021 according to a report by the HSE.
4 per cent of children in the State under that age of 18 tested positive for the virus during that period, 17 per cent of the overall number of cases recorded.
Since the first reopening of schools in August 2020, 832 outbreaks associated with staff and students have been reported, representing 3,650 cases. 90 per cent of outbreaks resulted in less than 10 confirmed cases.
As reported by The Irish Times, during the last academic year, 18 schools were forced to exclude all staff and students to allow Covid testing to be carried out and where outbreaks were confirmed. The report said these outbreaks were "usually of small-scale (2-3 subsequent cases) with usually friendship groups testing positive amongst both pupils and staff".
It was also found that adult-to-adult, adult-to-child or child-to-child transmission was more common than child-to-adult transmission.
Thirty-nine cases were identified among Leaving Certificate students, who sought advice from public health teams in schools, between the end of classes and the completion of their exams, 21 of whom missed examinations due to isolation requirements. For students identified as close contacts (41), 14 missed exams due to having to restrict their movements.
The report recommends schools should reopen as planned, concluding that the data analysed is "reassuring that case positivity amongst identified contacts is low, despite the high levels of community transmission experienced across Ireland at various times during the course of the pandemic".
"Children should therefore be afforded the opportunity to continue their education as a high priority, with minimum unnecessary interruptions," it adds.