TUI: Schools will not re-open next week


Jack Quann
Jack Quann

07.31 5 Jan 2021


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The general-secretary of the Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI) has said schools will not be opening as planned on January 11th.

Michael Gillespie was speaking as the Cabinet sub-committee on COVID-19 meets to discuss the proposal, before a final decision is made on Wednesday.

The Department of Education says it fully intends for schools to re-open on January 11th - but a number of opposition parties have called for that to be delayed by at least a week.

Mr Gillespie told Newstalk Breakfast schools are in a better place for remote learning.

"There is a plan - we're way better prepared than we were last year - there's a plan to support continuity of schooling, and this was agreed by the stakeholders.

"So guidance on remote teaching and learning in the COVID-19 context has been agreed for post-primary schools and centres for education."

"What we're saying is that should kick in next Monday".

Mr Gillespie agreed that schools "are not going to be open", but also suggested the uncertainty "is not helping anybody".

He said the closure should last "at a minimum until the 18th" to see if the spread of coronavirus has been suppressed.

"We're not calling for a long-term closure, we're just talking for the minimum time possible to allow this".

"Schools will open, but they'll open in a remote context and schools have planned for that over the last couple of months".

Echoing this, Labour's education spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said he believes the decision has already been made.

"It's come quite clear to us that they won't open next Monday, and will most likely close for the entire month of January".

"We would say to Government that this decision needs to be announced, I think the decision has already been made."

"In fairness to Government it's not an easy decision, it's probably one that they don't want to make.

"One of the successes of this Government has been the re-opening of schools last August/September.

"I think our lessons from March/April/May was when closing schools, the profound negative effect it did have on all children and young people - but particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds and those with additional needs".

But he said there should be a scenario where Leaving Certificate students could attend school "in a socially distanced manner, when nobody else is there obviously".

And that younger pupils from DEIS schools "who would be most negatively affected by a lockdown - perhaps they could still attend, and obviously young people with additional needs."

"You're talking about maybe 10 to 15% of the entire student body; I think that is feasible".

TUI: Schools will not re-open next week

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Main image: A face mask is seen on the back of a chair in an empty classroom near Munich in Germany. Picture by: Frank Hoermann / SVEN SIMON/DPA/PA Images

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