The Irish Second-Level Students’ Union (ISSU) has written to Minister for Education Norma Foley outlining their members' serious concerns regarding the reopening of schools.
The Union has called for clarification 'on a number of critical concerns regarding the restrictions now implemented and guidelines provided for the return to school'.
"Students, families, teachers and all in the school community recognise the necessity to return to school," ISSU President Reuban Murray wrote.
"However, this requires clearer communications on the health and safety protocols expected within schools.
"The ISSU is requesting that the Department of Education and Skills provide the guidance given by the health and safety authorities, outlining the rationale whereby numbers within classrooms / school buildings are deemed acceptable in contrast to the current restrictions imposed by government. The government has also clearly indicated that citizens are expected to avoid public transport if at all possible, yet a substantial number of students will rely on this mode of transport to get to and from school every day.
"The ISSU would ask the department to explain the viability of this and the alternative arrangements for students who can no longer travel to school via public transport due to personal and / or medical concerns."
The ISSU is also calling for a risk assessment contingency plan to be developed and distributed to all school stakeholders, in conjunction with the relevant health authorities. The union want the plan to define the threshold number of cases where schools will be required to close locally and nationally, provide guidance on the measures to be taken in a school should a case/cases be confirmed and the steps to follow for the continuity of teaching and learning in the event of a closure.
The Union also wants clear plans for how immunocompromised students will be educated and what support will be available for students if they have to move to online learning.