The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) has said that consideration should be given to closing schools earlier this Christmas, with one Cork teacher saying such a move would "provide peace of mind for staff, students and parents before gathering with family this Christmas."
The union for second-Level and higher education teachers have suggested that schools close for the Christmas break on the afternoon of Friday 18 December as opposed to Tuesday 22 December Christmas to allow staff and students to restrict their movements before meeting vulnerable relatives over Christmas.
Speaking on the announcement, TUI General Secretary Michael Gillespie said that the past few months have been difficult for the school community, leaving students and staff feeling more fatigued than usual.
“Closing schools on the afternoon of Friday, 18 December would also potentially allow students and teachers – together, a significant proportion of the population – to restrict their movements for a longer period before meeting vulnerable relatives.
“This would be a real, tangible action that could benefit all in the school community. It could also prove to be a ‘stitch in time’ measure that helps prevent longer absences due to burnout and exhaustion later in the school year.”
TD Mick Barry described the request as “modest” and said that it could benefit the mental health of students.
“I think that is particularly the case for the Leaving Cert students. I think that these students need to be cut a break. I think the TUI proposal is a very modest proposal," he said, “I think it could go towards in some way, taking some of the pressure off students.”
Tim Murphy, member of the National Executive of the TUI in Cork the additional days off would be a “nice gesture” from the Department.
“We’re also looking at it from the point of view of this has been a very stressful time for our members as well as the members of other unions and of other members of the school community,” he said.
“We’ve all put ourselves in the frontline to a lesser or greater extent, in looking after and making sure that schools have remained open and it will be an extra nice gesture from the government to say they recognise that,” he said.
Mr Murphy also stated that the extra time would provide peace of mind for staff, students and parents before gathering with family this Christmas.
“We’re talking about literally a day and a half of Christmas week but it would give that few extra days to make sure that kids have space away from the big numbers in schools before they meet their relatives and their family members."