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Open letter from Acting Chief Medical Officer to parents, guardians of school children, and school staff

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To parents and guardians of school children in Ireland, I am very aware that many of you are worried about the reopening of schools and the associated risk of COVID-19 for your children. This concern is natural and is to be fully expected after a period of six months during which we have all had to adapt to the challenges posed by COVID-19.

The decision to reopen schools has not been taken lightly and has been based on guidance produced by international bodies including the World Health Organization (WHO), and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC); scientific evidence regarding the risk of COVID-19 in school children and staff; the experience of other countries that have not closed, or have reopened their schools; our own experience having reopened childcare settings and summer camps since June; and evidence regarding the importance of school for the overall health and well-being of children.

International evidence shows us that child-to-child and child-to-adult transmission of COVID-19 in schools is uncommon. In addition, our own experience to date in Ireland, and indeed that reported internationally, demonstrates that for the overwhelming majority of children who are diagnosed with COVID-19, their symptoms will be mild.

The importance of schools for the overall health and well-being of children cannot be overstated, and the risk of COVID-19 has been carefully weighed against the very real harm that can be caused by sustained school closures. Schools play a fundamental role in the social life of children; they are where children are educated, make friends, share interests, learn social skills like self-confidence and empathy, and participate in sport and cultural activities.

Of course, as we continue to navigate our way through this pandemic, there are no zero risk options for reopening schools or indeed any other environment; the aim, therefore, is to reopen in as safe a way as possible by ensuring that all appropriate public health measures such as physical distancing, hand washing and respiratory hygiene are implemented where appropriate.

KEY ROLE

Schools are at the heart of our communities and the best way to protect them is to keep the level of COVID-19 in the community low. As parents and guardians, you can play a key role in this, both through your own actions and through the influence that you have on your family and friends. If all of us continue to make small changes to the way we live, we can - together - starve this virus of opportunities to transmit.

While it is okay to send your child to school or childcare if they only have a runny nose or a sneeze, if you have any concerns that your child has symptoms of COVID-19 - fever, cough, shortness of breath, loss of taste or smell – then please keep them at home until you have spoken with your GP by phone. Lots more information is available at gov.ie/backtoschool and hse.ie.

There will be cases of COVID-19 among children over the coming days and weeks, as there have been throughout this pandemic to date. But when this happens our public health teams in the HSE will respond and liaise closely with the school involved and ensure that all necessary measures are taken to protect other students and school staff.

Finally, I want to take this opportunity to thank you for all you have done to keep your family and our communities safe over the past seven months. I also want to thank all teachers, principals and school staff who have worked so hard to ensure that our schools are ready to reopen – it is just one more example of the incredible solidarity that has defined the way in which people all across the country have come together to play their part in getting us through this pandemic.

Dr. Ronan Glynn, Acting Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health.

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New Patient Advocacy Service offering support to Kerry people

A newly established Patient Advocacy Service is offering support to people in the Kerry area who want to make a complaint about the care they have received in a public hospital. The service provides free, independent and confidential information and support to people making a formal complaint about their care in a Health Service Executive […]

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A newly established Patient Advocacy Service is offering support to people in the Kerry area who want to make a complaint about the care they have received in a public hospital.

The service provides free, independent and confidential information and support to people making a formal complaint about their care in a Health Service Executive (HSE) funded public acute hospital.

People in the Kerry area looking for support can contact the Patient Advocacy Service confidential helpline on 0818 293003 to speak to a trained advocate who will help them to get information on the HSE’s complaints investigation process, called ‘Your Service, Your Say’.

The professionally trained independent advocate will support and empower the person making the complaint, with the aim of highlighting their views and concerns.

The advocate will explain to the person how to write a formal complaint and what to include in it. They will also help the person prepare for meetings with the HSE about their complaint, and they will help the person explore their options following a response from the HSE to their complaint.

“Until now, people in Kerry and across Ireland who experienced difficulties in the Irish health service often felt there was nowhere for them to turn,” Service Manager for the Patient Advocacy Service, Claire Lehane, said.

GUIDANCE

“The newly established Patient Advocacy Service offers patients the guidance and information they need to make a complaint when they are unhappy with the care they receive. It is free, independent and run by our professionally trained patient advocates who will use their compassion and knowledge to guide people through the HSE complaints process.”

The helpline is open Monday to Friday from 10am until 4pm, including lunchtimes. You can also email info@patientadvocacyservice.ie or for more information see patientadvocacyservice.ie.

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New Kerry Dublin flight takes off

By Sean Moriarty The Kerry-Dublin air route returned to the skies for the first time in nearly seven weeks today (Wednesday). Budget airline Ryanair has taken over the route following the collapse of Stobart Air on June 12. At around 1pm, one of Ryanair’s Boeing 737-800 aircraft landed at the airport after completing its 50 minute […]

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By Sean Moriarty

The Kerry-Dublin air route returned to the skies for the first time in nearly seven weeks today (Wednesday).

Budget airline Ryanair has taken over the route following the collapse of Stobart Air on June 12.

At around 1pm, one of Ryanair’s Boeing 737-800 aircraft landed at the airport after completing its 50 minute journey for Dublin.

Less than 25 minutes later it was back in the sky again for its return journey to the capital.

The flight will operate once a day until September 1 when the frequency will increase to twice daily.

“We are happy to report a positive start to the service which has been absent since early June,” the airport’s CEO John Mulhern told the Killarney Advertiser. “Ryanair intends to operate the route once a day until the end of August and has committed to restoring a twice-daily service from September.”

The route is operated on a commercial basis by Ryanair. Since 2011, Aer Lingus, through its subsidiary Aer Lingus Regional or its partners Aer Arran and Stobart Air operated the flight as a Government support Public Service Obligation (PSO). Previously, between 2008 and 2011 Ryanair operated the route on a commercial basis but withdrew at short notice as it could not make it profitable.

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