The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) has said that ensuring the health and safety of students and staff must remain the key priority in any move to increase on-site activity on third level campuses and in the further education and training sector in the new year.
The Union has highlighted that any move towards more face-to-face engagement will have resource implications and that many students may wish to continue to engage remotely.
TUI represents over 19,000 members, including 4,000 academic staff in Institutes of Technology/Technological University Dublin.
Speaking this afternoon, TUI President Martin Marjoram said:
‘The significant efforts and innovation of staff and students have facilitated the continuity of education, assessment and research in higher and further education since March of this year, notwithstanding the additional time involved in preparation, delivery and associated work involved with remote teaching.
It is important to note that while most further education, training and third level teaching and learning is taking place remotely, staff have demonstrated great flexibility by continuing to facilitate certain on-site activity such as laboratory work, practical and skills-based tuition and workshops including the education and training of apprentices. Crucially, there has also been on-site engagement with a range of learners whose needs require additional support beyond that which can be provided remotely.
In any move to increase on-site activity in the new year, the health and safety of students and staff must be paramount. In this regard, the advice of the public health authorities must be strictly and consistently adhered to and key protections such as physical distancing and the wearing of facemasks completely observed. We will insist that the required resourcing be made available on an ongoing basis to ensure that our members are protected.
It must also be recognised that many students may wish, for a variety of reasons, to continue to engage remotely. This could lead to very significant resourcing, staffing and workload issues from supporting remote provision for one cohort in a class and on-site provision for another cohort in the same class. In this regard, unreasonable expectations cannot be allowed to develop regarding the ability of staff to transition abruptly from one mode of delivery to another, or to a mixture of modes, as public health advice is amended.’