The Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland (ASTI) is set to propose delayed and staggered reopening of schools at a meeting tomorrow with the Department of Education and Public Health Officials.
The Standing Committee of the union, which represents around 18,500 secondary teachers, met today to assess the position regarding the reopening of schools in the context of the prevalence of Covid-19 nationwide.
The meeting heard of the unease of members regarding the health and safety of teachers, students and school communities.
In a statement this evening, the union said it is "deeply concerned" Education Minister Norma Foley may reopen schools "without putting in place additional measures necessary to safeguard the health and safety of students and school staff".
It said key concerns include the safety of school communities, staff shortages due to Covid-19, inadequate ventilation and lack of HEPA filtration units, provision of medical-grade masks and risks to medically high-risk individuals.
The ASTI is calling for updated risk assessments to be presented prior to schools re-opening later this week.
"The priority must be that students and school staff can learn and work in an environment where there are appropriate safety measures in place to protect all concerned," said ASTI President Eamon Dennehy.
The union will be proposing a delayed and staggered reopening of schools, with face-to-face teaching with examination classes to be prioritised.
The ASTI is also set to ask the Minister to consider making antigen tests available for all parents and their children to be used prior to going to school as a supplement to the existing testing and tracing regime in second-level schools.
The union will also be calling for the speedy rollout of HEPA filtration units at the meeting with the Department of Education and Public Health Officials tomorrow.