Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has welcomed news that special educational units in secondary schools will reopen on Feburary 22nd.
Speaking tonight, Teachta Ó Laoghaire said:
“The return of children with special educational needs to classrooms is long overdue. This comes back to the government’s failure to plan, and the fact that they had no preparation done for who to prioritise if cases rose too high for all children to be in school.
“Many children and their families have suffered immensely. Some will have unfortunately regressed. It is a huge pity it has taken so long but I am glad there is progress tonight.
“Sinn Féin made it clear to the Minister from the outset that we wanted special education to continue but the government botched the plan twice.
“Only now are they engaging properly and listening to what is needed to ensure reopening is safe. Clearly long overdue and substantial mitigation is needed.
“But tonight’s news and tomorrow’s partial reopening of special schools will, however, be frustrating for those still left behind. Many families are still looking at no in-school support for almost a fortnight yet.
“Children with complex needs in mainstream settings have been left out of the reopening thus far. These families have been badly let down and they need a return date urgently.
“I have heard many stories of children with additional needs in the last number of weeks waiting for the school bus to arrive, which never came.
“The Minister must not forget that for a significant number of children with additional needs, the school bus will not be coming for them tomorrow morning – these families continue to struggle.
“These children should be in the classroom, in a way that is safe and sustainable. We need to deliver that as soon as possible.”