Gradual Phased Opening of Primary Schools Should Happen Before June
Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín TD has called on the government to examine the possibilities of getting Primary Schools opened up on a gradual phased basis before the end of June. He stated;
“It is very significant that Dr David Nabarro of the WHO has this morning called for Ireland to think about re-opening schools. That the WHO has said that there must be a 'balance of risk' is also significant. Students missing school will 'have a long term impact on their future ability to learn'. I agree with Dr Nabarro, but I would add that that reopening of schools must be gradual and phased. In Britain children of frontline workers were the first ones back to school. We too must try to facilitate this if we can. We must also investigate if we can bring children with additional needs and children who may be at risk back to school in the early phases also”.
“We in Aontú have been calling for a cross society, sector by sector forum to be created to see if we can emerge from the Lockdown in a safer and faster manner. We have seen from the Meat Industry that sector specific issues can arise. Its imperative that we have all stakeholders working together for each sector to deliver the safest possible return to normal. The government must bring together teaching unions and parents representatives to design the safest return for students and teachers alike”.
“In an answer to me, the HSE stated that they have done no research, forecasting or modelling on the cost of the Lockdown, Hospital Avoidance and Health Care Cancellation in terms of morbidity or mortality. This is shocking. It means that decisions on the lockdown are being made on an incomplete evidence. This research must happen now”.
“There is a cost to Lockdown. There is significant concern that more excess deaths may be attributable to non Covid related issues than to Covid itself. It is also the case that the catastrophic economic cost of the Lockdown will mean a decade of poverty for many and reduced investment in Housing, Health and Infrastructure for years to come. This too will cost in terms of lives and health. As the WHO have said, there is a “balance of risk” that is not being properly assessed”.
"I was contacted by a social worker during the week who told me that not one child on the at-risk register had been visited during lockdown in her area and that no new referrals were made. Aontú has since made contact with TUSLA and asked whether or not this was the case. In response a spokesperson said that children continue to be visited at home and referred us to the guidelines that had been issued to social workers at the start of this pandemic. TUSLA's response to us did not make specific reference to the at-risk register".
"We know that the numbers of referrals are down largely because children are not attending school. Schools play a vital role in referring children to TUSLA. On foot of this I am calling on the Minister for Children to work with the Minister for Education to research ways in which the children on TUSLA's at risk register are among the first to return to school so that their well-being and safety can be monitored. The government's handling of schools, students and exams throughout this crisis has been marked with indecision, this must change, the World Health Organisation has now directly referenced Ireland and encouraged us to look at re-opening schools. Their advice must be heeded", concluded the Deputy.