INTO asks government to reconsider limited reopening of schools due to "grave safety concerns"
"Serious safety concerns must be addressed prior to any reopening of schools..."
The Irish National Teachers Organisation has asked the government to reconsider the reopening of special education schools and classes this week.
INTO said that "grave safety concerns" had not yet been adequately addressed by the government and that many teachers are anxious about their own health and that of their pupils.
INTO’s Central Executive Committee said in a statement last night: "Serious safety concerns must be addressed prior to any reopening of schools. The INTO’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) has said that teachers’ grave safety concerns have not been adequately addressed by today’s public health webinar and by Government."
📢 Update: Serious safety concerns must be addressed prior to any reopening of schools...
The INTO’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) has said that teachers’ grave safety concerns have not been adequately addressed by today’s public health webinar and by Government...
— INTO (@INTOnews) January 18, 2021
"Following an emergency meeting, the INTO CEC calls on the Department of Education to reconsider their plan to resume in-school special education this week. Teachers have serious concerns about public health advice provided at webinar in relation to planned limited reopening of special ed.
"Teachers are understandably & justifiably anxious about own safety and that of their pupils whilst community infection levels remain very high."
The statement added that the webinar failed to "allay teachers' fears" and that further information and supports would be needed to reach an agreement.
The Department of Education has said that information regarding high risk teachers and those who are pregnant will be issued over the coming days.
Schools and classes for children with special needs are due to reopen on Thursday.
Minister for Education Norma Foley said that her team was working towards a "phased return" for children in special schools as well as those in special classes and those with additional needs.
She said last week: "During this lead into a phased commencement of in-school services at primary level, we are working in parallel with post-primary stakeholders to address their concerns and recognising that post-primary schools present different logistical challenges if a partial return is to be possible.
“I very much hope that we can work together to set out a pathway for the return of all children at all levels of schooling at the start of February, subject of course to government and public health consideration of what constitutes the safe movement of people at that point.”