CHILDREN were sent home from a Cork school this morning because the principal was unable to find a substitute teacher to cover for a sick staff member.
Trina Golden of the Owenabue Educate Together School in Carrigaline said that a decision had to be made at 8.15am this morning that the senior infants' children’s classes could not go ahead.
There are 12 children in the class.
The majority of the children were at home but a small number were already in school attending a breakfast club.
She said parents had to be contacted to come and collect them, with some parents having to leave work.
She said the 30-pupil school currently has junior infants, senior infants and a class for children with autism, and four teachers.
Two teachers were sick this morning and efforts to secure substitute cover through a number of routes including a sub-seeker supply panel and Twitter failed.
She said that the Covid-19 restrictions mean that two classes cannot now be put in together to be taught by the same teacher if a substitute teacher is not available.
In recent weeks, schools across the country have been sharing their experiences on social media of the difficulties they have in finding substitute teachers.
Ms Golden said the substitute teachers were always difficult to find but this issue has been exacerbated by the Covid situation.
She said: “Parents were upset and angry and wondering what happens if such a thing happens again.”
A spokesperson for the Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO) said it has raised the issue around sourcing substitute teachers with the Department of Education in recent weeks.
“We have raised the issue of the substitute crisis with the Department of Education on a regular basis in recent weeks, in light of concerns raised by members in accessing substitute cover. Recently, we negotiated 100 additional posts to be added to the supply panels to alleviate some of the pressure schools are experiencing. We understand that the recruitment process for these posts is currently underway. The INTO is continuing to engage with the Department and other education stakeholders with a view to alleviating the pressure caused by the unavailability of substitute teachers," the spokesperson said.
The Department of Education was contacted for comment.