Leaving Cert students and their families advised to cocoon ahead of exams

The HSE is urging local Leaving Certificate students and their families to “cocoon themselves” in the run up to the exams and to avoid superspreading events such as parties.

Dr Una Fallon, director of public health in the midlands, says that Leaving Cert students and their families should significantly limit their close contacts in a bid to ensure that they do not contract Covid-19. The exams get underway next Wednesday June 9.

“It is really important for students who want to sit exams and their families to cocoon themselves and not expose themselves to any possibility of COVID infection. Leaving Cert students should not meet up in the 14 days before exams and avoid in-person study groups. In particular, they should avoid ‘super-spreading events’ such as parties,” Dr Fallon says.

Dr Abigail Collins, consultant in public health medicine, HSE Schools lead, who has been working closely with the Department of Education, stated: "While only 3.4% of school-going children have had COVID, 100% of children have had their education significantly interrupted. Primary school children and some children with special education needs will continue to go to school until the end of June. It is important they do not miss any more of the school year."

All schools have been advised not to have school tours unless they can walk to an outdoor venue. If classes are going out, teachers should make sure that pupils stick to pods and do not mix classes.

Dr Collins went on to say: "We do not recommend that photographers attend schools to take school photographs. Persons attending schools should be limited to those required for education purposes, inspections, health and safety/welfare requirements.

"Right now, it is important that we protect opportunities for children and keep schools open and as low risk an environment as possible. Parents, students, and all school staff, please keep following public health guidelines, minimise your exposures to COVID and stay at home if you have symptoms," Dr Collins said.