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Forty-one new Covid cases in NI as union says current plans to reopen schools ‘put everyone at risk’

There have been 41 new Covid-19 cases in Northern Ireland over the past 24 hours, according to the Department of Health.

It brings the overall total number of positive cases to 6,471.

There has also been one further death, which occurred outside the current reporting period, bring the total number of Covid-related fatalities to 559.

There have been 10 confirmed cases in the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough in the last seven days with 32 in Newry, Mourne and Down over the same period.

Meanwhile, NIPSA, the largest of support staff trade unions, representing over 7,000 workers, has called on the Education Minister to rescind plans to reopen schools without adequate protections for staff and pupils.

Alan Law, Assistant Secretary stated: “NIPSA calls on the Education Minister to rescind plans to reopen schools on August 24 without adequate protection measures for staff and pupils.

“NIPSA supports the reopening of schools but the current plans will put everyone at risk; pupils, staff, parents and wider society.

“We need safe protocols not those which abandon best practice and ignore health advice in relation to social distancing and pupil bubbles.”

Mr Law added: “It’s ridiculous that parents are expected to entrust a system with the education of their children which intends to pack buses and classrooms to maximum capacity.

“It’s unfair on staff to try and maintain safety when the infrastructure around them is not fit for purpose.

“It’s not too late to act and we must do everything we can to ensure safety for everyone is the ultimate and only objective.”

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