Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has this afternoon asked that the Minister for Education provide clarity to SNAs given the current confusion in the sector regarding SNA redeployment.
Teachta Ó Laoghaire said:
“Earlier today I contacted Minister Joe McHugh seeking clarity for SNAs regarding redeployment. A lack of communication has led to frustration and worry among SNAs.
“Much of this can be addressed with answers to their concerns and clear communication. There is still confusion regarding the exact roles and responsibilities they will be asked to take on.
“SNAs need to be confident in how their welfare will be ensured in any such redeployment, to understand how social distancing can be applied and that they will not be expected to undertake tasks they are not qualified to perform.
“Forsa Trade Union has communicated to SNAs that they may be expected to perform tasks that can be done remotely, but the Minister and circular 27/2020 which was issued last week is not clear on this.
“Much of this confusion arises from a template form for Garda vetting that SNAs received in advance of their redeployment, which described them as ‘Healthcare Assistants’.
“This caused significant concern that they might be directly redeployed to frontline healthcare work. I understand a new form has or is being circulated, however this was surely avoidable in the first place.
“There is also a need for clarity regarding whether SNAs who have loved ones at home who are vulnerable can withdraw from the process, how the issue of childcare will be covered or dealt with and whether SNAs will be working with adults or solely with children.
“There is also a need for clarity regarding the children SNAs are providing remote learning for currently and how these considerations will be balanced.
“SNAs are more than willing to play their part in the fight against COVID-19. But they can’t simply be considered as labour commodity that can be applied to any job at all.
“Redeployment needs to be appropriate to their training and skills. I hope that Minister McHugh can address their concerns as a matter of urgency.”