Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has said that parents, families and teachers are completely in the dark when it comes to schools reopening. He has called on the Minister for Education to bring clarity to the situation.
“Any school I have spoken to in recent weeks has received no contact whatsoever about reopening.
“Even in ordinary circumstances, schools would be in the midst of preparation for the next school year at the moment. Right now, that just isn’t possible because schools don’t know what policies and procedures they might be expected to put in place.
“The reality is that we know a return to school based learning is important, but that we need to do this safely. We also know that we will have to live with Covid-19 for some time to come and we know a vaccine is not going to appear today or tomorrow.
“In that context, we know that a return to school isn’t going to be like the usual start of September return. There are big outstanding questions about how social distancing will be enforced and about capacity in school buildings that are already too crowded.
“Schools need to know how many rooms will be needed and they need to know if they will need additional teachers, SNAs or other staff. If the return to school is only partial, then some element of remote and online teaching will be a part of this too. So it is clear, that teachers and school staff will need support and need information. Likewise, parents will need reassurance.
“But right now they have nothing. No one involved in schools has any idea what they are meant to do to reopen their buildings and ensure that children get the education they deserve.
“The Minister has said that planning is ongoing, but parents and teachers are in the dark. In my view, interim plans need to be published to give schools and parents some chance to plan, and work out what is coming next year.
“A lot of noise has been made about the road map for the economy. Education matters too, and I am calling on the government to deliver a proper roadmap for education.”