Teaching union, INTO, has set out five clear requirements for schools to operate safely as community infection rates rise and the number of positive tests in schools increase.
In a press release issued to the media today, the INTO admitted it is "growing increasingly concerned that public health precautions for teachers are inadequate. We are alarmed at comments made by Dr Henry of NPHET, who said it appears widespread community transmission is a threat to schools."
"Many primary teachers have underlying health conditions or have family members whose health is at risk from Covid-19. The threat associated with rising levels of infection in communities is leading to apprehension and anxiety among school staff nationwide, especially in counties where level 4 restrictions already apply.
It remains imperative that a public health review takes place and that all education stakeholders are immediately convened to explore what this means for our schools. INTO insists that it be represented on any government steering group involved in pandemic planning in primary and special schools. The desire of teachers to keep schools open must be met with a firm commitment to keep schools safe."
The INTO has now demanded that the following measures be put in place with immediate effect:
INTO General Secretary John Boyle stated:
“The government’s plan for living with Covid-19 mentions that recommendations regarding the status of schools at level 5 will be based ‘on the situation and evidence at the time.’ INTO has engaged constructively with government on the development of the roadmap for the safe reopening of schools, which was underpinned by expert Irish public health advice three months ago. The level of infection in Ireland at that time was significantly lower than at present. As has been our default position, all decisions related to schools must be led by public health advice.
Despite our best efforts, government has failed to deliver a fit for purpose, fast-tracked, sector-specific testing and tracing system in the seven weeks since schools reopened. This has resulted in principal teachers regularly having to initiate out of hours contact with families and staff members when they have been notified of positive tests. This situation is simply untenable. If our primary and special schools are to fully reopen after mid-term break and operate safely next month, government must ensure that the necessary protective measures and protocols are put in place within the next fortnight.”
Subscribe or register today to discover more from DonegalLive.ie
Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.
Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.