Minister to meet with unions and health officials ahead of schools reopening

The Minister of Education will meet with teacher unions and public health officials ahead of schools reopening in light of the surge in Covid-19 infections.

Norma Foley will hold the meeting next Tuesday, before the schools are scheduled to reopen on Thursday January 6.

In a statement, the minister said the education ministry continued to engage with public health officials over the Christmas period.

“I recognize the enormous importance of school for children and young people,” she said on social media.

“All infection prevention and control measures in place in schools are constantly being reviewed and we continued to engage with public health officials over the Christmas season.

“As previously agreed, I will attend a meeting with public health on Tuesday afternoon with unions, governing bodies and department officials before the school reopens.”

Ahead of the planned reopening, teachers’ unions are seeking “faster response times and interventions” if multiple cases arise in schools, according to The Irish Times.

John Boyle, secretary general of the Irish National Teachers’ Organization (INTO), said he was seeking assurances the government would take infection levels in primary schools “seriously”.

“As Covid-19 ramps up in communities, we want assurances that the government will do more to ensure that infection levels in primary schools are closely monitored and taken seriously moving forward and that principals schools can count on public health support when they need it most, ”he said.

INTO “will simply not accept less public health protection for our members, who are close contacts of confirmed cases and who are part of the group of workers caring for the larger cohort of unvaccinated people,” he said. he declared.

Mr Boyle said the union would also seek to clarify the progress of the childhood immunization program at the next meeting.

Martin Marjoram, President of the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI), said that “the long-standing crisis in teacher supply resulting from wage inequalities continues to pose enormous challenges in the context of the pandemic”.

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He said TUI hoped to receive the latest public health advice regarding schools in the department at Tuesday’s meeting.

Earlier on Friday, in an interview with RTÉ’s News at One, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said schools would reopen as planned, adding that it was a controlled environment.

“All the information I have received, all the advice I have, says that although of course you can get an infection in schools, for example they are significantly safer than children outside of schools,” he said. declared the minister.

He said he was not aware of any European country that is currently considering closing schools.



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