Jack Quann
Jack Quann

19.03 9 Oct 2020


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The head of the Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO) has said the Government needs to plan for schooling in level five.

John Boyle also told The Hard Shoulder there has been no communication from the Government over a proposal to extend this month's mid-term break for schools.

The option of a longer mid-term break to limit children's movements is among the ideas that have been raised across Europe as potential measures to try to curb rising coronavirus cases.

But the Government has insisted no decision has been made.

On this, Mr Boyle said: "Interestingly for four months we met with the Department of Education and all the other stakeholders on a weekly basis.

"And now that we have all our great work done to get the schools safely re-opened, we were intending to move that out to once a fortnight.

"So there is going to be a meeting next Tuesday, we might hear something about it there.

"Now it didn't come as a bolt out of the blue this morning, I have to add, because in political circles, in medical circles, I'm well informed that there was this discussion across Europe - and in particular in Britain and Ireland - in relation to a circuit breaker.

"And I think maybe where the herd was spooked this morning was when the Independent linked it to the schools.

"I think the idea of schools closing in their own right was never intended.

"And if there is going to be a decision made around this, it would be that there would be a circuit breaker in all of Irish society on the island, North and South, and that it would be timed around the time of the mid-term break so that it wouldn't add to the disruption for families.

"Schools North and South are due to be closed anyway for a week, beginning the 26th of October".

Planning for level five

Asked how his members would view an extra week off, he said it would be a big difference to March.

"When they were closing back in March teachers got two hours notice, and it wasn't even possible in some cases to get the schoolbags full and get the textbooks sent home.

"And then shortly after that the teachers were locked out of the school buildings and found it very, very difficult".

"This time around hopefully, after all the relationships we built up over the summer with the department, that we would be kept in the loop, that we would have that urgent meeting next Tuesday, and that we would plan for such a thing.

"There was guidance issued yesterday on remote learning, that was very, very welcome - we didn't have that guidance back in March - but that guidance will not work if we do not have a resource bank with it.

"Because a lot of people have no broadband in their homes, or they don't have enough devices in their families - particularly children with special educational needs suffered a lot - and even the teachers sometimes don't have the right broadband.

"Certainly I hope on Tuesday in the budget, the the Department of Education will be planning for level five one way or the other - because it may well happen in some areas of the country that we get to level five.

"And thus far there has been no planning".

He said if schools stay open in a level five scenario, they would be "very different places" with huge protections needed for children and workers.

Suggestion to extend school mid-term 'didn't come out of the blue' - INTO

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Main image by Wokandapix from Pixabay 

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