Two-thirds of Irish schools employ teachers with underlying health issues 3 months ago

Two-thirds of Irish schools employ teachers with underlying health issues

A worrying statistic as schools reopen across the country.

Two-thirds of Irish school principals say they have teachers with underlying health issues, according to a recent survey shared by the Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI).

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The survey asked questions of 120 second-level schools and illustrates the significant challenges and issues involved in a safe reopening for the new academic year.

66% of respondents are aware of teachers in their schools with underlying health issues that puts them in the very high-risk category in relation to Covid-19.

Speaking on Tuesday, TUI General Secretary Michael Gillespie said: "The safe re-opening of schools is an unprecedented challenge.

"Should a school not be in a position to open as scheduled in a manner consistent with the physical distancing requirements set out by the public health authorities, a delay in opening is the only acceptable option.

"There can be no departure from the specified physical distancing measures in schools. Every school must adhere to this key protection.

"In this regard, we also believe that access to rapid Covid-19 testing will be required to help to limit disruption in schools."

There has also been a number of concerns regarding substitute teachers, with the survey finding that 98% of schools have experienced difficulties employing substitute teachers over the past 12 months.

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81% of these believe that pay discrimination is a significant factor in this.

73% of schools asked do not believe that students have the required IT facilities to participate in remote learning if their school was required to close for a period.