Cork preschool owner says delaying reopening is the right call but should have been made earlier

Cork preschool owner says delaying reopening is the right call but should have been made earlier

CORK preschool owner Minna Murphy has said the Government should have acted quicker to allow early years providers to delay their return to work in January.

On Wednesday, the Government made the decision to delay the return of teachers until Monday, January 11, following the recent surge in Covid-19 cases nationwide. 

However, only today, Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman TD, following consultation with the early learning and childcare sector, announced that the resumption of the pre-school programme will also be postponed until January 11 also.

Ms Murphy, manager of Kildinan Preschool Minna Murphy, said: "As a sector we are delighted but disappointed that only when we pushed, this decision was made. We are disappointed we were not considered in the first place. 

“We were very hopeful that when the Government made [the initial] decision we would also be included. We were hoping the government would understand our fears.

“We are very prominent in the community and the numbers are rising unfortunately which makes us very vulnerable. Our members are very angry that we were not included in [initial] the plans,” she said.

Ms Murphy is very concerned about the scheduled reopening following a large number of positive cases in recent days.

“I am very apprehensive about the opening. I am not an expert, but I would be surprised if the schools’ reopened on January 11 going by the huge rise in numbers. We want to be seen as teachers and we hold similar fears to the teachers that Covid is once again rampant in communities nationwide.

“It is getting out of control unfortunately and everybody needs to be protected. It is important we protect the most vulnerable and the essential workers. We want to work safely with the children, but we have to be protected,” she added.

On New Year's Eve, Minister O’Gorman met with the Early Learning and Childcare COVID-19 Advisory Group to discuss this matter. Representatives from the Advisory Group shared their concerns about the full resumption of early learning and childcare from early January. While accepting the need to maintain early learning and childcare for priority groups, the Advisory Group asked that the pre-school programme (ECCE) would be aligned with the reopening of schools on 11 January.

Sinn Féin TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has backed the demands of the early years employees, whose health, he said, must be protected.Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photo:Gareth Chaney/Collins
Sinn Féin TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has backed the demands of the early years employees, whose health, he said, must be protected.Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photo:Gareth Chaney/Collins

Sinn Féin TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire backed the demands of the early years employees, whose health, he said, must be protected.

“They are looking for equality. They just want to be treated the same as the primary and secondary school teachers. This has exacerbated a feeling amongst them that they are second class citizens. There should be consistency on education across the board,” he added.

More in this section

Sponsored Content