The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) notes the move to Level 4 restrictions for counties Monaghan, Cavan and Donegal and has called for an audit of schools to ensure that they have the required resources to ensure full compliance with public health advice.
TUI President Martin Marjoram offered the following comment in relation to schools:
Audit of schools required
“It cannot be overstated that the risk posed by the pandemic is a daily source of extreme stress and anxiety to our members, many of whom have serious underlying health issues themselves or else share a household with a person or people with underlying health issues.
Schools in counties that have been moved to Level 4 restrictions must immediately be audited to ensure that they have the required resources to ensure full compliance with public health advice. There can be no limit on available funding in this regard.
This audit should then be rolled out nationally to all schools as a matter of priority.”
Chronic underfunding at second level exacerbating problems
“Many school buildings were barely fit for purpose before ever the challenge of COVID-19 arose. The sector has been chronically underfunded. At second level, last month’s latest OECD figures show that Ireland’s spend is the lowest of the 36 countries for which figures are provided, trailing unacceptably far behind the OECD and European averages.
Ventilation and heating problems will now become critical as we move towards colder weather. Many schools, particularly those based in older buildings, will require new ventilation solutions and monitors to signify when air exchange is required. Again, the required resourcing must be provided.”
Potential of Level 5 restrictions
‘We also note that in recent days several Government ministers have stated that it is the intention to keep schools open at all potential levels of restrictions. However, in relation to the status of schools at any escalation to Level 5, the Government’s own Plan for Living with COVID-19 states that recommendations will be based ‘on situation and evidence at time.’ This is different to the other levels, where it is stated that schools ‘will remain open with protective measures.’
We have already sought detailed clarification on why it would be safe for schools to remain open at Level 5 if the rest of society is effectively locked down. We will insist on consistency, clarity and certainty for our members. We have stated at all times that we will be guided by the public health advice, but a detailed rationale based on the most up-to-date evidence is a necessity.’