Press Release: Parents Utd Ireland Calls for Honesty About What’s Really Happening in Schools

A 300-page Investigative Report calls on the Government to immediately align its Covid-19 policies for schools with international best practice, to increase mitigation measures in schools in light of the more transmissible variant dominant in Ireland, to invest in public health and our education system – and immediately give all adults, children, and families the choice. The choice to continue distance learning/working or to attend school in person.

COVID-19 is a notifiable disease – this is to prevent the spread of the virus and to protect people. Yet media reports and written testimonials received from parents, students, and school staff across Ireland revealed they were not told about cases of Covid-19 in their classrooms or schools. Students and staff who had potentially been potentially exposed to the virus but weren’t informed couldn’t access early interventions such as testing or know to restrict their movements to stop the spread of the virus to others in their class, or in their home.

Despite having a high-risk exposure, they weren’t told. Why not?

Apparently, this was because they were wearing masks, or there were ventilation (open windows) or infection prevention measures in place, or because of where they were seated in a classroom. But international guidelines say not to take these mitigation measures into account for the general public to use as a reason to exclude someone as a close contact.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), an official statutory advisor for the Irish health care authorities explicitly states that anyone in a classroom for 15 minutes or more with a confirmed case has had a high-risk exposure [to the virus] and is close contact.

So, by definition, classrooms – in schools – are high-risk areas for potentially contracting the virus if somebody is infected. Yet the Government continues to claim schools are safe.

What the Government neglects to mention is that cases in school-age children increased by over 1,000% in the four months schools were back open last year, or that the number of outbreaks in schools often surpassed weekly outbreaks in extremely high-risk settings such as hospitals, nursing homes, and meat factories.

How did anyone think the virus wouldn’t spread in packed Irish classrooms (the largest class sizes in Europe), often with little to no room for 1 meter – never mind 2 meters – physical distancing? With no masks for children in primary or afterschool, limited use in secondary schools, and everyone sharing toilets, schoolyards, lunch areas, and school buses (with children from lots of different households, and lots of different schools, with little supervision, and poor ventilation)?

Still, the Government said schools were safe. But they didn’t publicize the fact that there were 1,176 cases in children while schools were closed, but an astounding 13,143 cases in children after they reopened – a ten-fold increase, in just four short months, representing 92% of all cases in children for all of 2020.

They did not highlight the fact that hospitalizations in school-age children with COVID-19 increased by 161% after schools reopened, nor did they indicate that young people, teenagers, children (0-25) were the only age groups who experienced more hospitalizations after schools reopened than when they were closed.

They did not tell the media that of all age groups, school-age children (5-14) experienced the highest increase in both cases and hospitalizations in the four months after schools reopened.

The investigation uncovered serious flaws and inconsistencies in the publicly-available data on cases in children and schools, and in children’s hospitalizations. Clarifications were repeatedly sought from the HSE and HPSC but have still not been given.

The report highlights the recent ECDC report on the new variants in which it states that “increased mitigations measures in schools” are needed.

It concludes that schools in Ireland are currently unsafe, based on existing mitigation measures and policies and that significant changes must be made immediately in order to reopen schools safely and keep them open.

Report: Covid-19 cases in children increased more than 1,000% since schools reopened

25 February 2021

  • A report published today outlines how the government failed to communicate a tenfold increase in Covid-19 cases in children after schools reopened
  • The report shows that while schools were closed, Ireland recorded 1,176 Covid-19 cases in children – since schools reopened, 13,143 such cases have been recorded
  • The report, titled There Is Nothing Positive about Positivity Rates in Schools: Investigating if Schools are Safe in Ireland has been published by Parents United Ireland, an advocacy group comprising families, school staff, students, and other professionals advocating for the safest school settings possible

The government failed to communicate that Covid-19 cases in school-age children (5-18) increased by over 1,000 percent since schools reopened in August 2020, according to a report published today.

The report, titled There Is Nothing Positive about Positivity Rates in Schools and published by Parents United Ireland, shows that in the six-month period when schools were closed in 2020, there were 1,176 Covid-19 cases reported in children.

In the four months after schools reopened up to the end of last year, however, 13,143 cases were reported – a tenfold increase, accounting for 92 percent of all cases in children for the whole of last year. The report also highlights the fact that hospitalizations in school-age children increased by 161% after schools reopened, more than any other age group. Outbreaks in schools often surpassed weekly outbreaks in extremely high-risk settings such as hospitals, nursing homes, and factories.

The report also features experiences from hundreds of parents, students, and school staff members from right across Ireland who did not know they would not necessarily be told of confirmed cases in their classes or schools, and also outlines the failures of the HSE and schools in contact tracing.

Included in the report are results of an online survey conducted by the group Alerting Parents of Outbreaks in Schools. Over a third of respondents – 1,065 people, 38 percent – said they or someone they live with have been in close proximity of someone in their school with Covid-19, for more than 15 minutes. Of these, 67 percent said they were not told by the HSE or their school that they were a close contact with a positive case. Sixty-four of these people said they took it upon themselves to get tested and were subsequently diagnosed with Covid-19.

The report identified concerns about the HSE definition of close contacts being applied in schools, alongside the serious lack of safety measures in schools, despite the Government continually telling people schools are safe.

“All humans, from babies to adults, can contract and transmit the virus. Nobody can know who will pass the virus on. Is it rational that the rules for the general public do not apply to those in the school population, when in fact all people of all ages can transmit and contract the virus, and get sick and die from the disease?” said Olive O’Connor, one of the authors of the report.


Parents United Ireland is an advocacy group composed of families, teachers, and other professionals advocating for the safest school setting possible in the midst of this global Covid-19 pandemic. The majority of Parents of United Ireland advocates are medically high-risk or have family members who are high-risk, and who have been cocooning since the start of the pandemic last year.