"Incredibly stressed out": Pregnant teachers express fears about returning to school 2 years ago

"Incredibly stressed out": Pregnant teachers express fears about returning to school

For many teachers in the early stages of pregnancy, back to school season has never been so stressful.

The Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland (ASTI) has revealed pregnant teachers are "incredibly stressed out" at the idea of returning to classrooms full of unvaccinated or partially vaccinated students.

Pregnant women between 14 and 36 weeks have been offered an mRNA vaccine, but some teachers in the earlier stages of pregnancy have expressed concerns about returning to school when case numbers are again so high.

Kieran Christie, the General Secretary of the ASTI, told RTÉ's Morning Ireland that pregnant teachers who have reached out to the union are "very upset" and "losing sleep" during what should be a wonderful time in their lives.

He said the ASTI has been trying to flag the issue with the Department of Education and has repeatedly called for it to be re-looked at, adding that the Delta variant is of utmost concern.

"It's just not acceptable that pregnant teachers will be coming into school in a couple of weeks' time, each and every one of them terrified from the moment they step in the door to the moment they leave," he said.


He added that even within the cohort of pregnant people there are "degrees of discrimination" as those who are under 14 weeks have not yet been offered a vaccine, but are still expected to attend work if they're in teaching roles.

Mr Christie said the Department of Education issued a notice a few days ago in relation to people who have conditions that put them in a high-risk category.

"High risk – you must attend the workplace," he said. "Pregnant women want no risk or low risk in relation to their health and the health of their unborn children.

"It's simply unsustainable that pregnant teachers in the coming weeks going into schools will be doing so in terror and in fear of their health and the lives of themselves, and the worries that they have about the viability of the pregnancies."

Mr Christie said that the ASTI is calling on Minister for Education Norma Foley to take action on the issue.