March 12, 2020
Closure of schools and universities necessary, however clarity needed for students, parents and teachers – Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD

Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has welcomed the decision of the Chief Medical Officer and the Government to close schools with effect this evening.

Speaking today, Teachta Ó Laoghaire said;

“I want to welcome the action of the Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan and the Government to close schools and third level institutions as a necessary containment measure against Covid-19.

“While this is clearly disruptive and causes great difficulty for many, we must take every action to safeguard public health.

“There are a number of questions now however, which require the Department address them.

“This is a particularly anxious time for those doing state exams – the Department of Education should communicate with students and with unions regarding arrangements for Orals and Aurals which were due these coming weeks, and how these will be rearranged.

“The Government should also be conscious of the fact that while many students in exam years have access to the internet, there will be others who do not. The Government and Department must ensure that these students have access to materials so they can continue working and studying over the coming weeks.

“I also urge the Department to issue guidelines to parents over social media, and by other means, on how to ensure their child’s education is maintained.

“While schools have made preparations within a tight timeframe, Minister Joe McHugh and his Department should seek to supplement the work done in this regard to ensure children remain stimulated and class programmes can continue.

“I would ask the Government to examine whether those on temporary contracts can avail of the €305 allowance available to other workers who have been forced to self isolate.

“Communities as a whole need to pull together in every respect, but in particular, as regards childcare for those who are not in a position to work from home. 

“Many people will be working in frontline services or have no choice but to go to work. Any assistance that can be offered towards them would have a significant impact.”

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