Government slammed over Leaving Cert return to classroom decision

‘Too  much responsibility being heaped on teachers’

Sligo News File

Allowing Leaving Certificate students return to the classroom on 11 January with the spread of Covid-19 continuing to rise  has been denounced as “premature and wrong.”

Martin Kenny, TD, Sligo-Leitrim, North Roscommon and South Donegal

Sinn Fein Sligo-Leitrim, North Roscommon TD Martin Kenny said: “It is obvious to everyone that the virus is now widespread in our communities and our hospitals and the health service is under enormous pressure. I believe that the Government’s decision to allow Leaving Cert students return to the classroom from the 11th of January is premature and the wrong decision.”

He said: “I agree that children’s education is essential and needs to continue but in the interest of public health and safety, remote learning should be introduced until such time as the virus is brought back under control. 

The Government, he said, “is heaping too much pressure and responsibility on schools and teachers and not providing resources and support that they need. 

“This pandemic is going on for 9 months and we hear from the government that they have plans and we will move from one level to another, but the reality is they have no plan for education and are making it up as they go along.”

 As well, he questioned how teachers “can be expected to provide online classes to some students while at the same time be in the classroom with leaving cert students.”

Sinn Fein believe we need, he said:

  • A minimum standard of remote learning. 
  • Discussions between HSE and the Department of Education and the National Immunisation Advisory Committee programme need to take place to see if school staff can be considered for Level 6 given the importance of their role, especially for special school staff. 
  • Work with internet providers to again lift data limits for remote learning. 
  • Continue school meals. 
  • A reversal to the 40% decrease in the PPE budget for schools. 
  • All SNAs have access to surgical grade masks. 
  • Serial testing amongst education staff. 
  • A system for supporting schools where large numbers of staff are absent connected to the virus needs to be implemented. 
  • There is an extension of supply panels. 
  • Discussions between HSE and Department of Education and the National Immunisation Advisory Committee programme need to take place to see if school staff can be considered for level 6 given the importance of their role. 
  • We need to ensure that there is a remote learning working option available for those at high risk when schools return. “