PLANS for a phased reopening of schools from March 1 are expected to be announced today after being signed off by Cabinet. Education representatives met Education Minister Norma Foley yesterday to discuss the plans which are believed to be aligned with public health advice.
Cork TD and Sinn Féin education spokesperson Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has expressed his hopes that today will finally see clarity for the school community on when they will return.
He said: “It is vitally important that the Government have learned lessons from January, have done the preparation, and will arrive at an announcement that is clear, detailed, and — most importantly — that has been agreed by all stakeholders.
“We all saw the return to special education fall apart last month because the Government did not plan and did not engage properly with representatives from the school community.
“School staff and students all deserve better communication and honesty.
“We need to know the up-to-date public health advice. It is crucial therefore that we get a plan, and that it ensures that schools are made safe.
“We need to know how school transport is going to work. We need to know the plan for when staff must isolate. We need assurances from the Government that tracing has been improved and there will be serial testing for school staff, and adequate safety measures.
“There also has to be a commonsense approach to both at-risk staff, and indeed at-risk children and families, and we should respect their decisions. I am hopeful tomorrow [Tuesday] will finally bring this clarity, and will not be another Government kite-flying exercise. If a return date is announced [today], the Government need to have done the work to make sure that the return does happen on that date.
“The Government cannot keep letting the school community down.”