PBP says Minister for Education must come out of hiding

Growing concerns about safety of students and teachers means Dáil must be recalled to get a full report from the Minister in relation to schools reopening

In a statement today People Before Profit has called on the Minister for Education to urgently clarify the position in relation to school reopening. They said the Dáil must be recalled so that the Minister can be questioned.

Deputy Gino Kenny said:

“In light of the increase in the number of Covid-19 cases and the delays in testing and contract tracing there is growing concern about a full reopening of schools, yet the Minister for Education is nowhere to be seen.

“The advice to the public is not to have more than six people in their homes yet most students and teachers will gather in classes with over 20 pupils in them. The public is being asked not to use public transport, yet many children will need to use public transport to get to schools. While the importance of maintaining social distancing of two meters is being emphasised school will operate with 1 meter. With growing evidence that children can transmit the virus the reopening of school has implications for all groups and generations in society.

“The reality is that the government plans are too little, too late. Insufficient resources have been allocated to ensure a safe reopening of schools.”

People Before Profit now wants the Minister to answer a number of key questions:

1.      How many students/teachers can be safely in a classroom?
2.      Should students take public transport to school?
3.      Will schools be reopening in counties that are currently in lockdown?
4.      What progress has been made on recruiting additional teachers and substitute teachers?
5.      What progress has been made in acquiring additional space?
6.      What provision is now being made to ensure that students have access to digital technology in cases where schools are forced to close?

Deputy Kenny concluded: “Events have changed since the inadequate plan to reopen schools was announced. Statement from the Tánaiste that clusters in schools are inevitable should make us wary about reopening too rapidly and without the necessary preparation. While PBP wants to see our schools open, and commends the many teachers and principals who are working hard to make it happen, the reality is that consideration may now have to be given to a more gradual or staggered reopening of schools. The Dáil must now be recalled  in order to allow a debate on this important issue.”