“It’s a very different place from September of any other year.”
The president of the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland (ASTI) Deirdre Mac Donald believes the proposed schedule for sending children back to the classroom may be too tight.
Yesterday evening the Government unveiled a €375m reopening plan for over one million students and approximately 100,000 staff in 4,000 Irish schools, including funding for at least 1,000 additional secondary school teachers and 120 extra school counsellors.
Minister for Education Norma Foley said she expected school reopenings to go ahead at the end of August or the start of September.
I am pleased today to publish the ‘Roadmap For The Full Return to School’ and confirm a substantial funding package of over €375 million for primary and post-primary schools as they prepare for reopening in the autumn. https://t.co/nl3G6vIepShttps://t.co/y15pQ3M1pM
— Norma Foley T.D (@NormaFoleyTD1) July 27, 2020
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland this morning, ASTI President Deirdre Mac Donald said that while the roadmap has been broadly welcomed, school chiefs have “a mighty task ahead of them”.
“Everybody has to get used to this new regime,” she said. “Teachers, students, we have the transition from primary into secondary so you know, everybody will need their day to get in, see the place and how it works. It’s a very different place from September of any other year.”
The ASTI believes that implementing the Roadmap and the Response Plan prior to the start of the next school year will require enormous efforts on the part of school communities, and school management in particular.
‘Health and safety is imperative’
“The re-opening of schools is one challenge. However, the measures that are being put in place must be sustained for as long as the threat of the pandemic remains. The health and safety of the whole school community is imperative for ASTI members,” said Deirdre Mac Donald.
In a statement on the ASTI website, the organisation said: “In this context, the ASTI is approaching the publication of the Plan with caution. Over the coming weeks, we will review its operation and effectiveness. We wish to make it clear that any tardiness in the delivery of supports necessary for the safe re-opening of schools would be unacceptable to the ASTI.
“The pandemic has highlighted the importance of education and the crucial role of face-to-face interaction between students and their teachers. We will continue to work with the Department of Education to press for any further resources required. We will also support our members in order to ensure that the advice of the Health Protection Surveillance Centre and other health agencies is implemented in full in every school.”