Emergency measures announced amid Covid school staffing crisis

Minister for Education Norma Foley has announced a series of urgent measures aimed at tackling a staffing crisis facing schools including an extra 200 substitutes
Emergency measures announced amid Covid school staffing crisis

Minister for Education Norma Foley has announced a series of urgent measures aimed at tackling a staffing crisis facing schools including an extra 200 substitutes.

Student teachers and retired teachers are also included in the plans.

Many schools are struggling due to a staff shortage linked to high rates of sick leave and teachers being forced to self-isolated due to Covid-19.

Boards of management for a number of schools met in recent days to draw up contingency plans for remote teaching.

A number of education sources told The Irish Times that several primary schools took the step after being advised by principals that classes may need to be sent home due to staff shortages.

“These discussions are taking place across many schools because there are urgent health and safety implications if we can’t supervise classes,” one source said.

A small number of schools have had to send classes home as teacher shortages worsen across the country.

Ms Foley announced a number of new measures on Tuesday night.

These include:

  • Hiring an additional 200 substitute teacher on a full-time basis to supply panels for primary schools which are facing significant challenges. This will bring total numbers on supply panels to 680.
  • The release of additional student teachers from higher education institutions up to the end of the year.
  • Allowing retired teachers to return to classrooms until the end of the current school term without any reduction in their pension.
  • The suspension of continuous professional development courses at primary level - where substitution is required to take part - until the mid-term break in February 2022.
  • Releasing teachers involved in teacher education support services to provide substitution cover at primary level.

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