TD Slams Foley And Department For Schools’ Plan

Minister is attempting to bully teachers, principals and SNAs into unsafe reopening

People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith has said the proposals and actions of Minister Norma Foley TD amount to an attempt to bully teachers, principals and SNAs into a return to work on Thursday and that the proposed plan was already “a shambles”.

She pointed out that the Minister had issued a letter to school management on Friday at 8pm directing all primary and special schools to reopen on Thursday with no direct input from frontline staff on how best this could be done- a move the TD said showed, “utter contempt for teachers, SNAs and principals who were expected to return to work at the height of a pandemic while not even been prioritised for vaccination”.

The TD said the quickest way to get supports to vulnerable children was to drive down the infection rates, something which reopening all primary schools even on the limited basis envisioned would undermine at this time.

Deputy Smith again raised questions on the overall safety of schools given increased international evidence on school transmissions and said many teachers remain unconvinced by the Minister’s insistence that all schools are safe given the poor ventilation and overcrowding issues were never addressed.

She said: “As Claremorris showed us before Christmas simply underplaying the incidence in schools will not work especially in this current environment.”

The TD called for a range of supports to be made immediately available and said these were a more practical measure than the Minister’s current proposals. These centre on increased supports for teachers in the work they are doing to reach all children:

  • Increase the inadequate funding to purchase devices for children
  • Provide increased financial support to families who are engaged in remote learning
  • Access to additional emergency in home tuition/support programmes for families under pressure is an option that could be further developed

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