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Plans for the full reopening of schools after Easter remain on track despite stubbornly high Covid-19 infection levels. While the number of infections reported yesterday was down on previous days, the situation is volatile.

Plans for the full reopening of schools after Easter remain on track despite stubbornly high Covid-19 infection levels. While the number of infections reported yesterday was down on previous days, the situation is volatile.
There was fear in Government about the impact of an underlying rise in Covid-19 cases on the return of remaining second-level classes to school next month.
However, yesterday a senior Government source insisted Cabinet ministers wanted all pupils back in school after the Easter break.
The Easter break will act as a mini circuit breaker and will hopefully mean we can have all students back in class next month, the source said.
Another source insisted there are no plans to change direction for the reopening of schools.
All primary pupils and fifth- and sixth-year students are already back, with first- to fourth-years the final batch to return when the new term starts on April 12.
The phased reopening started on February 11 and schools close for a two-week Easter holiday on Friday.
The break comes as the number of schools hit with at least one case of Covid-19 infection has taken a significant jump.Last week, public health teams conducted mass testing in 183 schools, up 70pc on 108 the week before, according to the latest data from the HSE.
There was also a doubling, from 35 to 71, in the number of childcare facilities where mass testing was carried outIn schools, of 4,062 people who were tested more than double the 1,842 of the previous week 110 were positive, a rate of 2.7pc. It was up slightly from 2.4pc the previous week.
Mass testing of close contacts is among the measures that public health teams may implement after a case of Covid-19 is identified in a school community or childcare facility.
The latest testing figures are based on the seven days up to Saturday, March 20, the week in which a further 340,000 pupils returned to the classroom under the phased reopening. This was the third phase of reopening since February 11, but the second involving such a large number of pupils together.
While half of primary school classes and sixth-year students returned on March 1, all primary classes and fifth-year pupils were back on Monday, March 15.
Of the 183 schools where testing was carried out last week, 120 were primary almost double the 65 of the previous week 52 were post-primary, up from 37, and 11 were special schools, up from six.
Last weeks increase in the incidence of Covid-19 in schools came on the back of a rise in infection in the community generally, which has clearly made its way into classrooms.
It is not known whether any of those who tested positive picked up the infection in school, but health experts insist that schools are safe once infection prevention and control measures are strictly observed.While the positivity rate in schools rose slightly in the week, it remains below the infection rate in the community.The positivity rate in childcare settings continues to be much higher, which is attributed to challenges associated with ensuring younger children adhere to the rules.
Last week, among the 1,236 people tested arising from a case in a childcare facility, 119 were positive, a rate of 9.3pc.Although much higher than schools or the community, it was down from 11.3pc the week before.
Schools and creches are dealing with a more transmissible variant of Covid-19 than was circulating before Christmas, when they were last open.
Páiric Clerkin, CEO of the Irish Primary Principals Network (IPPN), said since schools reopened there were more entire classes being isolated after a case of Covid-19 was confirmed, rather than the smaller pods of pupils.He said it was essential that public health teams respond rapidly to calls from schools in order to minimise anxiety levels in the school community.
Education Minister Norma Foley told the Oireachtas Education Committee yesterday that the total amount allocated for Covid-related measures in schools for the 2020/2021 year was 639m. It covers a range of costs from PPE and enhanced cleaning regimes to wellbeing supports, release days for principals and school transport costs.
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