INTO calls on government to reconsider plans to partially open schools
"The Government must take responsibility for poor and untimely communication and mixed messages over the past two weeks."
The Central Executive Committee (CEC) of the Irish National Teachers' Organisation has called on the Department of Education to reconsider their plan to resume in-school special education this week.
The INTO said the "grave safety concerns" of teachers have not been adequately addressed by today’s public health webinar and by the government.
In a statement issued on Monday evening, the INTO said teachers are "understandably and justifiably anxious about their own safety and that of their pupils" due to the high levels of community infection remain high.
“I know this is the last thing teachers want to be worrying about as they exhaustively strive to support pupils remotely," INTO President Mary Magner said.
"We have heard the concerns of teachers in recent days and, while teachers across the country are keen to get back to the classroom, they are scared. Teachers are committed to supporting their vulnerable pupils but the safety of staff is vital.”
Following engagement with the Department of Education and other education stakeholders, the INTO CEC said it would continue to engage with the Department and public health authorities in an effort to work towards a safe, phased reopening.
The statement said if the effort is to succeed then up-to-date, reliable information and supports are essential.
"Today’s webinar did not address teachers’ concerns," INTO General Secretary John Boyle said today.
"The Government must take responsibility for poor and untimely communication and mixed messages over the past two weeks. The failure of Minister Foley and Minister Madigan to engage in proper consultation in the last two weeks has been very damaging and it has hampered the planning for the safe reopening of schools.
“We have made progress on some of our key concerns in recent days, but there is more work to be done to ensure the safety of staff, pupils and their families, including a higher prioritisation of education staff for vaccination. We will continue to be constructive and work with our colleagues in Fórsa and with the Department of Education towards the safe, orderly reopening of schools.”