Cork TD urges Minister to resolve issues in reopening special schools

Cork TD urges Minister to resolve issues in reopening special schools

A Cork TD has said that the Minister for Education needs to urgently engage with workers’ representatives to ensure the reopening of special education.

A CORK TD has urged the Minister for Education to resolve outstanding issues to ensure the reopening of schools for children with special educational needs.

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has said that the Minister for Education needs to urgently engage with workers’ representatives to ensure the reopening of special education.

It comes after a union that represents Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) outlined concern for the current plans for reopening.

In a statement, Fórsa said that an agreement had not been reached and that a number of issues were still to be resolved, including the safety of SNAs and the absence of childcare arrangements for workers.

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD said that the outstanding issues which would prevent a return to special education next week are “of serious concern”.

“Everyone agrees on the need to see special education return as soon as possible and in a manner that is safe. Sinn Féin supports that objective and indeed have made it clear that it was our first priority.

“The real concerns of staff need to be heard and allayed, and agreement needs to be found."

Mr Ó Laoghaire said that the Minister is “taking stakeholders for granted”.

“In my view, these issues can be resolved. That is entirely achievable and this can be done. The Minister needs to step up and take nothing for granted," he said.

The statement from the union followed the announcement of plans to commence a phased reopening, in which the Minister for Education and the Minister of State for Special Education and Inclusion said that they had “a positive engagement” with primary and special education stakeholders.

In a letter to schools on Friday, the Department set out the framework under which teaching would take place and stated that all special school would reopen on 21 January.

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