Teachers keeping 'an eye' on Covid numbers ahead of school returns - ASTI

The National Bus and Railworkers Union also said it will not cooperate with an increase in capacity unless members are vaccinated
Teachers keeping 'an eye' on Covid numbers ahead of school returns - ASTI

Vivienne Clarke

Teachers may not return to school next September if Covid-19 case numbers remain high, the president of the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland (ASTI) has warned.

Ann Piggott told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show that teachers had “just disappeared” from the vaccination priority list and that they, along with gardaí, were calling on the Government to reverse the decision to follow an age-based vaccination system.

The overhaul of the State’s vaccine priority list was an unacceptable development that was disrespectful to teachers, Ms Piggott said.

Teachers had to operate in crowded classrooms sometime with 30 pupils where it was difficult to observe social distancing, she added.

The ASTI would continue to “keep an eye on the numbers” she said, when asked if there was a threat of teachers not returning to school on April 12th.

There was a need to ensure that the virus was not being transmitted in schools, Ms Piggott said, and there was a possibility of the need to return to remote learning if numbers remained high at the end of the summer.

Mass testing

It comes as 124 cases of Covid-19 were detected across the school system in the week up to Saturday, March 27th.

The HSE’s weekly Covid-19 mass testing report for schools indicated a 1.9 per cent positivity rate among the more than 6,500 tests carried out in over 250 primary, post-primary and special education facilities.

The ASTI’s warning comes after the president of the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) also described the decision to discount professions in the vaccine rollout as “extraordinarily disrespectful”.

Various groups of key workers have expressed anger and disappointment at the loss of their prioritisation for Covid-19 vaccination, following the Government decision to vaccinated by age once the most vulnerable and those over 70 have been inoculated.

We will not cooperate with a return to 50 per cent capacity unless vaccinated

The general secretary of the National Bus and Railworkers Union (NBRU), Dermot O’Leary, also warned on Wednesday that there will not be a return to full capacity on public transport until NBRU members are vaccinated.

“If people expect to move (at more than 25 per cent capacity) that's not going to happen,” he told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show.

“We will not cooperate with a return to 50 per cent capacity unless vaccinated.”

Mr O’Leary said he had every sympathy with gardaí who were expected to operate on the frontline but were not vaccinated.

His members had been number 10 on the previous vaccine priority list, he said. “We have cooperated, but at no stage did the NTA ever communicate directly with us.”

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