Teachers say school reopening should be “delayed and staggered.”
The Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland (ASTI) has issued a statement pushing back against current plans to reopen schools later this week.
As things stand, the Department of Education intends to reopen the schools on Thursday, January 6th. The ASTI, which has a membership of 18,000 teachers, will meet with Minister for Education Norma Foley today to further voice their concerns.
In the statement issued yesterday the union set out their position, noting: “The ASTI is deeply concerned that the Minister for Education may re-open schools without putting in place additional measures necessary to safeguard the health and safety of students and school staff.
“This would constitute an unacceptable risk in the context of the Omicron wave. There is uncertainty regarding the impact in schools of this significantly more transmissible variant.”
The ASTI says it has concerns around:
- Safety of school communities.
- Staff shortages due to Covid.
- Inadequate ventilation and lack of HEPA filtration units.
- Provision of medical grade masks (e.g. FFP2).
- Risks to medically high-risk individuals.
The statement says that it “beggars belief” that HEPA filtration units have not been put in place where needed, and has called on the department to provide antigen tests for parents and students, to be used before coming to school.
“The priority must be that students and school staff can learn and work in an environment where there are appropriate safety measures in place to protect all concerned,” said ASTI President Eamon Dennehy.