Pregnant teachers and SNAs will continue to work from home for rest of school term
Significant news for pregnant teachers going forward.
As we look forward to more easing of restrictions this month and Ireland's vaccine program picks up steam, the Department of Education has confirmed that pregnant teachers and special needs assistants (SNAs) will not have to return to the classroom for the rest of the term.
After schools across the country re-opened for in-person classes in the weeks before and after Easter, pregnant teachers and SNAs were told to continue working from home because of concerns over links between Covid-19 and stillbirth.
Last month, the Royal College of Physicians in Ireland (RCPI) reported six cases of stillbirth and one case of second-trimester miscarriage caused by Covid placentitis since January.
And now, with just weeks to go before the end of the current school year, the Department of Education has decided to extend the work-from-home arrangement for pregnant teachers and special needs assistants until the end of the term.
Official and updated formal health guidance for pregnant women is currently awaited, but the Department of Education has moved ahead of that, which will no doubt come as a relief to many pregnant women and their families at this time.
Overall there have been 11 cases of Covid placentitis - a coronavirus-related infection of the placenta - in Ireland since the pandemic began, and the RCPI said the increased incidence in 2021 is likely attributable to the UK variant of the virus, B117, which was identified here in Ireland back in December of last year.
This increase in placentitus comes after a study showed there has been more stillbirths globally and deaths of pregnant women during the pandemic compared to previous years.
A recent study published in the Lancet Global Health journal, which analysed data from 17 countries and 40 studies, also found that there was an increase in stillbirths and other pregnancy complications over the past year.
The research found that disruptions to healthcare systems as well as patients' fears or reluctance around attending clinics may have lead to the avoidable deaths of mothers and babies.