Schools set to reopen as planned this week following public health approval 4 months ago

Schools set to reopen as planned this week following public health approval

Back to school...

Schools in Ireland will reopen as scheduled this week, despite fresh Covid-related fears and mounting public criticism.

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Following a meeting on Tuesday (4 January), coalition leaders Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan have reportedly given the green light to the planning reopening.

According to RTÉ News, the latest public health advice passed on to Government is that schools remain safe environments amidst the spread of Covid.

On Monday evening, the Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland (ASTI) said that opening schools back up at this time without new safety measures in places represents an "unacceptable risk".

As of Tuesday afternoon, Minister for Education Norma Foley has met with unions and school board representatives to outline plans for reopening.

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As it stands, schools across the country will reopen on Thursday morning.

The ASTI had previously indicated a preference for a delayed and staggered reopening, with face-to-face teaching with classes undergoing examinations this year identified as a priority area of interest.

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 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".

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Last weekend, Eamon Ryan said that he expected schools, creches, and colleges to open as normal.

"I think it's really important," said Ryan.

"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.

Featured Image of Norma Foley via Sam Boal / RollingNews.ie

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