Cork TD calls for mitigations to be introduced as schools plan to reopen

Sinn Féin's spokesperson for education, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD, is calling for HEPA air filtration systems for all classrooms and HSE contact tracing for schools
Cork TD calls for mitigations to be introduced as schools plan to reopen

Mr Ó Laoghaire said he had written to Education Minister Norma Foley on such issues before Christmas. Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins.

CORK South Central TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has called for mitigations to be introduced following today's announcement that schools would reopen as planned on Thursday.

The Sinn Féin TD, who is the party's spokesperson on education, said that such measures should include contact tracing for schools and funding for ventilation systems.

“Schools are the best places for children to learn. Their education has been disrupted so much already in recent years and everything possible must be done to ensure schools can remain open," Mr Ó Laoghaire said.

“That means HEPA air filtration systems in all classrooms, with adequate guidance for principals. That means the HSE being responsible for contact tracing, not principals. 

"That means adequate investment in schools to ensure they have enough budget for heating and other vital resources."

Mr Ó Laoghaire said he had written to Education Minister Norma Foley on such issues before Christmas.

“On December 21 I wrote to the Education Minister, outlining that there was an opportunity over the Christmas break to put in place the mitigations that were necessary to make schools as safe as possible," he said.

“The minister had an initial meeting on December 22 with a stakeholder group, which I welcomed, but they are only now meeting again today. I cannot understand the lack of urgency.

“This is putting immense pressure on countless schools, and causing huge stress for parents, school staff, and on children."

Mr Ó Laoghaire voiced concern that the additional mitigations would not be put in place after schools reopened this week.

"Many schools will find it harder than ever to find substitutes, and principals are at the end of their tether, undertaking contact tracing and sourcing filtration systems," he said.

“We cannot take it for granted that just because schools open now that they stay open, we need to treat schools as an urgent priority to keep them open."

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