December 1, 2021
Unacceptable that children are paying the price for government failures on Covid-19 – Kathleen Funchion TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Children, Kathleen Funchion TD, has said no child should be denied an education because of the government’s failures in respect of Covid-19.

Teachta Funchion said:

“Parents received alerts through their school apps late last night to say it is now mandatory for children from 3rd class up to wear a mask in school all day, effective immediately.

“Proper filtration and contact tracing is what is needed in our schools; not directives that assume non-cooperation from parents.

“The absolute inability of the Minister for Education to address the severe lack of substitute teachers, large class sizes and the over reliance on pre-fab buildings for classrooms is what the Minister should be putting her energies into – not punishing children.

“I continue to be concerned and alarmed at the language used about children throughout the pandemic, from the start they were described as vectors, which makes it so unfair that children have been targeted again.

“The Children’s Rights Alliance and other organisations have called for clear advice to be issued to schools before any directive from government, to ensure schools can take account of each child’s needs in accessing their right to an education. However, what transpired last night was the exact opposite.

“Parents who know their child will find it difficult or indeed impossible to wear a mask in school will now need a medical cert from their GP to allow for an exemption from wearing a mask. This will place further strain on already overstretched GP practices, many of whom have been scathing of this requirement.

“Due to the confusing messages from Government many after-school activities have decided to close as a result of NPHET advice, which leave many vulnerable children who heavily rely on these services without access to this vital service.

“The Government are on the one hand telling parents to cut down on their children’s extra-curricular activities yet at the same time it’s okay for them to go for dinner and drinks – the hypocrisy is breath-taking.

“The world as children know it has fundamentally changed and yesterday’s announcement does not account for the unprecedented challenges facing children and young people, as we emerge from Covid-19.”

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