Chief Medical Officer and Public Health Agency called before Education Committee over pupil testing and self-isolation

Alliance’s Education and Health spokespeople have asked for clarity from the Public Health Agency (PHA) on pupil testing and self-isolation, after significant difficulties across schools at the start of term.

The party’s Education spokesperson, Chris Lyttle MLA, has written to the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) and PHA to attend tomorrow’s session of the Assembly’s Education Committee. It follows more than half of pupils at Larne High School missing classes due to being close contacts with someone who tested positive.

“What we need here is action and not talk, and I recalled the Assembly Education Committee last week to engage with the Northern Ireland Teaching Council,” said Mr Lyttle.

“As Education Committee Chair I have also written, as agreed by MLAs on the Committee, to ask the CMO and PHA to attend tomorrow’s session. We need greater clarity on what the evidence is behind the system we have in place, and whether the system is operating as it is supposed to.”

Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA added: “We are frustrated some of the proposals we made during the summer, including ensuring straightforward access to vaccination for school pupils and students who qualify, do not yet appear to have been acted upon. We also want to ensure preparations are in place, not just being worked on, for the return of further and higher education.

“On top of this, there is now a distinct lack of clarity about whether the testing system in schools is designed adequately to take account of the increased period of infectiousness apparent with the delta variant. That is why we want to hear from the CMO and the PHA about the evidence behind the system which is currently in place, before swiftly assessing what changes should be made.”