Final planning underway for re-opening of schools but concerns expressed by Cork education leaders

Final planning underway for re-opening of schools but concerns expressed by Cork education leaders

WORK will get underway this weekend to finalise plans for the reopening of schools next month.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said today that he was confident pupils will be back in school by the end of August.

The long-awaited guidelines to fully reopen schools are expected to be published on Monday.

“The Minister will be bringing a very comprehensive memorandum to the government on Monday which will outline a package of measures which will be required to enable the reopening of schools and resources that will be required to outline the plan," Mr Martin said.

"There are some final details to be done over the weekend.

"This isn't just about the resumption of schools for the sake of it, it's very much a comprehensive set of measures that will enable schools to reopen fully, but also in a resilient and robust way,” he said.

The Taoiseach said he wanted to give confidence to parents “that the situation is well under way."

Cork-based President of the Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO) Mary Magner said that the organisation, like a number of other stakeholders, had engaged “profusely” with the Department on the issue of returning to school.

Speaking to The Echo, she said that the Department has had “an awful lot” to get through.

“There’s no point in issuing guidance unless it's absolutely done properly.

“My attitude is if you are doing a job do it once but do it well,” she said.

Ms Magner stressed that the plans for re-opening will also be informed by the public health guidance and said that the return to school does also depend on the Covid-19 activity in the coming weeks.

“We have to remain positive,” she said, however adding, “children need to go back, teachers need to go back and they want to be back. They want to go back safely and in a secure, orderly fashion.” 

Earlier this week a number of education leaders in Cork expressed concerns over the delay in publishing guidance in relation to the return to schools.

Anne Piggott, incoming President of the Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland (ASTI) questioned how much can be done from the beginning of August to the end of August before students go back to school.

“It’s going to be a challenge for everybody but schools have to open, and people need their education, but we need guidelines,” she said.

Aaron Wolfe, acting principal at Coláiste Éamann Rís said that the lack of information on the issue has also meant that parents are concerned about what to expect and have questions.

“It’s very difficult because we don't have the answers,” he said.

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