A Cork teacher has condemned the “terrible position” that the Department of Education has put principals and school management in concerning the reopening of schools.
Richard Terry, a history and maths teacher at St Colman’s College in Fermoy and a member of the ASTI’s Fermoy branch told The Echo that “more solid recommendations” should have been given to principals.
“Principals and management have been under a huge amount of stress and pressure to be told four weeks before reopening schools, ‘here’s a vague plan and here's some money, work it out yourselves’.
“A principal is not an epidemiologist. I think they have been put in a terrible position by the Department of Education, being given this information only four weeks ahead of reopening.
“They knew months ago that the schools would not reopen as normal.
"They should have been planning for those five months, not just throwing it out four weeks before reopening,” he said.
Mr Terry said that preparations ahead of reopening were “very different for every school” depending on the school’s starting place, with St Colman’s having undergone significant work to the building over the summer months which are “an extra complexity."
“There’s no consistent model. There are schools that are more modern builds and schools that are older builds that will seek renovation in a couple of years and then the majority of schools are buildings which were built in the 1970s in response to the expansion of the number of students going to school in the result of free education.
“Every school is starting from a dramatically different starting point which has impeded or made it difficult for some to get ready to the same level as others.”
He said that the problems being faced when schools reopen are old problems that could have been solved.
“The teacher supply issue, class size issue, capital investment issues, these are all problems that have been problems for the last 20 years and they could have been solved."
However, he went on to say: "They didn't solve those problems and we trundled along and made up the difference and when a crisis like this hits, these problems become very big problems.
“It is long term mismanagement and underfunding have led to this problem where we are now,” he said.