The Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO) has called on the Department of Education to reconsider their plan to resume in-school special education this week.
The union's Central Executive Committee (CEC) has tonight said that teachers’ "grave safety concerns" have not been adequately addressed by today’s public health webinar and by Government.
In light of plans to partially reopen schools later this week, thousands of teachers, principals and special needs assistants (SNAs) attended a virtual meeting this afternoon, hosted by the Department of Education and public health officials from the HSE.
Following an emergency meeting, the INTO's CEC has called on the Department of Education to reconsider their plans, stating that the public health webinar "failed to allay teachers’ fears".
Commenting, INTO President Mary Magner said:
"I know this is the last thing teachers want to be worrying about as they exhaustively strive to support pupils remotely.
"We have heard the concerns of teachers in recent days and, while teachers across the country are keen to get back to the classroom, they are scared.
INTO General Secretary John Boyle said today's webinar did not address teachers’ concerns.
"The Government must take responsibility for poor and untimely communication and mixed messages over the past two weeks.
"The failure of Minister Foley and Minister Madigan to engage in proper consultation in the last two weeks has been very damaging and it has hampered the planning for the safe reopening of schools," he said.
"We have made progress on some of our key concerns in recent days, but there is more work to be done to ensure the safety of staff, pupils and their families, including a higher prioritisation of education staff for vaccination.
"We will continue to be constructive and work with our colleagues in Fórsa and with the Department of Education towards the safe, orderly reopening of schools," he continued.
The INTO's Central Executive Committee is to meet once again tomorrow to assess the situation further.