THE Donegal born head of the Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO), John Boyle, stressed that vaccination of all of their members remains a key objective of the union after government said all schools will reopen in August/September.
The statement from Mr Boyle comes as Minister for Education Norma Foley TD, on Tuesday, brought a memo to Cabinet which confirmed that plans are in place to support the full reopening of schools in time for the start of the new school year .
Speaking to the Donegal News, Mr Boyle said they expect to meet with the department this week.
“Planning for the next school year will continue throughout the summer, with regular engagement between the INTO and officials in the Department of Education and public health authorities. At every major juncture, this union has sought and received an up to date public health assessment of the risk mitigation measures in place, and we would expect a similar assessment prior to the reopening of our schools in September.
“We understand that all current risk-mitigation measures that were in place during the last school term will continue in the coming term. Funding remains in place for sanitising and cleaning schools and after strong campaigning by the INTO air quality monitors will be delivered to schools over the summer. We have also ensured that schools that have additional concerns about ventilation have been in a position to engage with the Department of Education’s Building and Planning Unit in recent weeks, with a view to addressing these concerns,” Mr Boyle said.
He stressed that vaccination of teachers remains a key objective of the union, and they will hold government to its word that all staff in schools will be vaccinated prior to the reopening of schools.
“We welcomed the recent introduction of a twin-track approach for vaccination, utilising pharmacies and GP clinics and additional vaccine supply to vaccinate all adults over the summer period. We remain determined to ensure that all our members returning to schools in September are vaccinated,” he added.
He concluded that ultimately the need for additional public health measures, revised guidance on the wearing of face coverings or the vaccination of children are public health decisions, which must be led by up to date evidence.
Minister Foley said school Covid-19 response plans will be updated by the Department and will be available for schools in advance of reopening.
“We are in constant communication with public health specialists ahead of the new school year and we can confirm that we are preparing for a full return of schools in late August and early September.
“Public Health has stated that the new variants of the disease do not change the infection prevention and control measures required in schools. The evidence available from the operation of schools during Covid-19 to date shows that schools are low risk environments due to the infection prevention and control measures in place.
“The provision of CO2 monitors for every school will be an important tool in keeping our schools safe and in addition to the mitigation measures already in place, our staff and students can be confident of returning to safe environments in our schools,” she added.
The department has procured a number of portable monitors which will be distributed to schools in August and September – between 2 and 20 at primary level and between 20 and 35 at post-primary level depending on school size.
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Posted: 12:30 pm August 4, 2021