Common sense approach needed for schools affected by outbreaks

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD
20 October 2021

Commenting on the news that most pupils at CBS primary school in Wexford stayed out of school today, Deputy Ó Ríordáin said the Department needs to take a common sense approach and listen to the schools affected by outbreaks.

Deputy Ó Ríordáin said:

“The Department of Education has effectively prevented CBS Wexford from providing online education to pupils by insisting the physical building reopen. It shows a failure to understand the hard work carried out by teachers throughout the pandemic who pivoted to teaching online overnight.

“Now, as a result of the decision to force the school to reopen, most pupils are now not receiving an education today. We need to see a common sense approach from the Department and support schools to make decisions locally.

“Parents have voted with their feet today. The Department of Education need to realise that ordinary rules don’t apply in a pandemic. They need to trust principals who are acting in good faith and in the best interest of children and the school community. No school wants to close, but the principal made a decision, the board of management backed her and the Department should have too.

“Between this and the circular sent out last week, it shows that the Department are not in touch with the reality on the ground. There has to be a little bit of leeway here and there has to be some understanding. There were cases like this a year ago and it appears that we have learned nothing since then.

“As my colleague and Labour leader Alan Kelly raised with the Taoiseach today, we need to take a common sense approach. The biggest cohort of unvaccinated people are children in our schools and that’s where we’re seeing the most outbreaks. Two schools had to close this week. When will antigen testing be provided in schools as the INTO have asked for?

“The system has worked thus far because school communities are doing their best for the children involved. We need to take a common sense approach here to ensure that no child is left without education.”

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