Booster vaccine rollout must be rapidly accelerated across education and early years sector

16 November 2021

Labour Party Education Spokesperson, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, has demanded that the Minister for Education immediately intervene to save the school system from complete collapse over the rapidly rising numbers of Covid outbreaks in schools and early years settings.

Deputy Ó Ríordáin said the Minister must do all in her power to convince Cabinet colleagues that teachers, school staff, special needs assistants and early years educators be given priority for a Covid-19 booster vaccine in order to keep education and early years settings open into the winter.

Deputy Ó Ríordáín said:

“The Government announced measures today for outbreaks in the home and in some workplaces but they have fallen way too short on schools and early years settings. If keeping our children in classrooms remains the absolute priority, then the Government must take swift and concrete action now.

“It is not good enough for the Minister to bury her head in the sand while schools and staff are reaching breaking point. A huge number of teachers and children are out sick with Covid or with symptoms and the reality is that substitute teachers cannot be found, something has to give.

“School staff feel abandoned by the Minister and with the system on the brink of collapse her silence is wholly inadequate in a time of crisis. The Minister must intervene now and strongly advocate to her cabinet colleagues that prioritising the staff she is ultimately responsible for on the frontline to get a booster jab is the right course of action before it is too late.

“The reality is that if our school system collapses then the knock-on effect to our hospital system, our retail and transport sector and the wider economy will be beyond detrimental. The Government must move rapidly to accelerate the booster program across the entire frontline. There is no issue in supply so Government must get on with the job.”

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