‘Health and safety must remain the key priority’ - Initial TUI reaction to guidance on return to post-primary schools

By piofficer, Monday, 27th July 2020 | 0 comments

Responding to the publication by Government of Reopening Our Schools: The Roadmap for The Full Return to School (click here to access full documentation), the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) has said that health and safety must remain the key priority and that additional resources should be made immediately available if the initial budget does not prove sufficient.   

The Union has also said that it expects ongoing and intensive engagement with the Department to address arising issues and matters that have yet to be finalised.   

Comments from TUI President Martin Marjoram:  

‘As extensive as today’s documentation is, it still cannot cover every eventuality and any arising issues must be addressed by the Department as soon as they are identified. This will be a massively complex operation and we will insist that schools and teachers be provided with every support and safeguard that is required.   

Physical distancing has been identified by the public health authorities as being absolutely critical in ensuring health and safety in workplaces, and whatever resources are required to ensure adherence to this must be provided. Should the initial budget set out today not be sufficient in this regard, additional resources must immediately be made available if and when required.  

In common with the other education partners, we hope that these measures will allow the safe reopening of schools, but vigilance will be required by all on an ongoing basis.   

We expect ongoing and intensive engagement with the Department to address arising issues and matters that have yet to be finalised including: 

  • Arrangements in respect of students and teachers who may not be able to return to the workplace because they are in high-risk categories in terms of their health
  • Further discussion in relation to assessment components to take account of the disruption to delivery of tuition and
  • The provision of IT and other resources to enable engagement by disadvantaged students and other cohorts who have been marginalised in the context of the national health emergency   

Today’s announcement of course relates only to schools, and the TUI requires an equivalent level of engagement and appropriate resourcing in relation to the reopening of Further, Adult and Higher Education workplaces.  In this respect, there is a need for coherence between the Department of Education and Skills and the newly established Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science.’