Reopening schools without new safety measures "an unacceptable risk" - ASTI
The union is suggesting a delayed and staggered reopening of schools.
The Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland has described the Government's plans to reopen schools without further safety measures as "an unacceptable risk".
The trade union made the comments in a press release on Monday night (3 January).
"The Standing Committee of the ASTI met today to assess the position regarding the reopening of schools in the context of the prevalence of Covid-19 nationwide," the union said.
"The meeting heard of the unease of members regarding the health and safety of teachers, students and school communities.
"The ASTI is deeply concerned that the Minister for Education may reopen schools without putting in place additional measures necessary to safeguard the health and safety of students and school staff.
"This would constitute an unacceptable risk in the context of the Omicron wave.
"There is uncertainty regarding the impact in schools of this significantly more transmissible variant," it added.
ASTI are set to be recommending a delayed and staggered reopening of schools in a meeting with the Department of Education later today (4 January).
Face to face teaching with classes undergoing examinations this year is hoped to be prioritised during the talks.
The main concerns for the union include the safety of school communities, staff shortages due to Covid, provision of medical grade masks, risks to medically high-risk individuals, and inadequate ventilation and lack of HEPA filtration units.
ASTI said that it "beggars belief that almost two years into this pandemic this basic facility (HEPA filtration units) is not in place where necessary.
ASTI President Eamon Dennehy said “the priority must be that students and school staff can learn and work in an environment where there are appropriate safety measures in place to protect all concerned".
Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has said that he expects that schools, creches, and colleges will open as normal.
"I think it's really important. The public benefit of that... the loss if we don't have our children back in school in my mind is much larger than any other measure," he said.