The country’s largest secondary school teachers’ union has directed its members not to co-operate with plans to bring Leaving Cert students back to school.
The Government yesterday confirmed that all schools would remain closed for the month of January.
There were two exceptions however, with Leaving Cert students permitted to attend class three days per week and children with special needs also returning.
Last night, the country's three main teaching unions labelled the plan "rushed and reckless."
In a statement this evening, the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland (ASTI) said it would direct its members not to cooperate with the plans.
It said it was not consulted on the plans before they was announced and had not been given enough assurances that schools are sufficiently safe for students and teachers.
ASTI President Ann Piggott said: “The ASTI has repeatedly sought sufficient assurances that schools are safe for students and teachers at this time, in the context of the new variant of Covid-19 circulating in the community and the alarmingly high numbers.
“We engaged with the Department of Education and with public health officials today,” she said. “Unfortunately, the assurances we sought have not been forthcoming.”
The Government yesterday insisted that the public health advice still states that schools are safe places for students and teachers regardless of the surge in coronavirus figures.
On The Hard Shoulder last night, the Education Minister Norma Foley said NPHET had advised the Government that the daily movement of over one million people associated with keeping schools open must be reduced.
She said Cabinet decided that by keeping all classes at home except for Leaving Cert students, that number could be sufficiently reduced.
The ASTI said it received a “high number of communications” from members expressing concern that the movement of over the 80,000 people needed to get Leaving Cert students to and from school is “not essential and poses a great threat to public health in the current context.”
It said it has directed its members not to cooperate with the plans and to offer Leaving Cert students remote teaching and learning instead.