PREVENTING your children from going to school poses a greater risk to them than Covid-19 does, according to health experts.
Specialists at Ireland's Health Service Executive (HSE) have warned that social and mental impacts of lockdown are likely to be far more impactful on most children than coronavirus will ever be.
Dr Colm Henry said primary school children were particularly affected by the rigours of lockdown and those with special needs or a disability were also being significantly impacted.
He stressed that disruption to social routines and educational routines can lead to anxiety and other stresses and the longer it goes on for, the more detrimental it will be for the children of this country.
"The risks of closure of schools outweigh the risks of Covid-19 in children," he said, while arguing that evidence suggests that the transmission of the disease amongst young people is extremely low.
He went on to say that the reopening of schools is not associated with an increase in community transmission.
It isn't just social and educational aspects that are lost by not coming to school however. Access to support such as meals, vaccinations and child protection are also fundamental parts of school for many children.
Public health specialist Dr Abbie Collins echoed Dr Henry's message, stressing that parents should be reassured that children going back to school is the right thing to do.
Outlining what would happen in the event of suspected case in a school she said public health doctors would liaise directly with the school and carry out a risk assessment.
"It will be a bespoke process," she said.
The team would look at a range of areas relative to the particular case and school including where children had been sitting, if they were in pods, what the flow pathway was, how they access toilets and where they would have gone during break times.
Close contacts would be informed and tested.
"We might temporarily restrict some activities or movements.
"The hope is there will not be large school closures and attendance is of paramount importance."