Guidance needed today on Government mid-term plans

09 October 2020
  • Uncertainty must be addressed, and school communities consulted with.
  • Knock on consequences of an extra week of closure will need to be addressed.
  • School communities already under huge stress from challenges of remaining open and Covid free.

Responding to the breaking news from the Irish Independent that the school mid-term break may be extended by a week, Labour Education spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said the government should give guidance today, that school communities need certainty as they are already under huge stress, and stakeholders must be consulted with, the public health advice that would inform such a move be provided, and an extension of the mid-term break would have consequences for essential workers.

Deputy Ó Ríordáin said:

“If the government is planning to extend the mid-term break then we need some guidance immediately from the Minister on her plans, and the public health evidence for such a decision. Any uncertainty would add to the incredible stress already placed on school management, teachers and SNAs, parents and students.  

“There may be merit to the proposal but consultation is needed, both with parent groups and with education unions and stakeholders. Getting our schools reopened was a huge collective effort, but it has been a very stressful period for students and teachers.

“I’ve visited a number of schools in recent weeks, and I am struck by the impact of remaining open has had on our school communities with Covid-19 incidence growing. The work is incredibly intense and is taking a continuous toll on those working so hard to keep our education system open.

“Students and teachers are exhausted, and the mental health strain is considerable. If the public health advice is that we need to close schools, if even for an extra week that information should be publicly shared.

“An extra weeks closure would also have a serious impact on parents who are working, in particular on front line staff in our health service. That’s why guidance is needed today from Government.”

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