February 22, 2021
Tomorrow must see a detailed and well-resourced return to school plan – Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson for Education Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has expressed his hopes that tomorrow will finally see clarity for the school community on when they will return to school buildings, and a clear, detailed and well-resourced plan on how this will work.

Speaking this evening, Teachta Ó Laoghaire said:

“I hope that tomorrow will finally bring clarity to the school community on when they will return to school buildings.

“Getting children into the classroom in a way that is safe and sustainable is vitally important, and something that Sinn Féin wants to see – I believe this is an objective shared across society and politics. Our children have undoubtedly missed out.

“It is vitally important that the government have learnt lessons from January, have done the preparation, and will arrive at an announcement tomorrow that is clear, detailed and, most importantly, that has been agreed by all stakeholders.

“We all saw the return to special education fall apart last month because the government did not plan and did not engage properly with representatives from the school community.

“Government communication on this has been confused and haphazard to say the least.  As recently as last Tuesday night, the Taoiseach on national television said that the talk of March 1st was only a rumour.

“It reappeared from leaks from a parliamentary party meeting then on Wednesday night. There has been total silence from the Minister for Education on any of this.

“The government keeps talking about a plan, but they have issued no such plan, instead opting for commentary and leaks.  

“School staff and students all deserve better communication and honesty. We need to know the up-to-date public health advice. It is crucial therefore that we get a plan, and that it ensures that schools are made safe.

“We need to know how school transport is going to work, we need to know the plan for when staff must isolate, we need assurances from the government that tracing has been improved and there will be serial testing for school staff, and adequate safety measures.

“There also has to be a common sense approach to both at risk staff, and indeed at risk children and families, and we should respect their decisions.

“I am hopeful that tomorrow will finally bring this clarity, and will not be another government kite-flying exercise.

“If a return date is announced tomorrow, the government need to have done the work to make sure that the return does happen on that date. The government cannot keep letting the school community down.”

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