Sinn Féin TD Seán Crowe has described the failure of the Government to have any plan for the reopening of schools as “bordering on ludicrous given that we are at the end of July and we are being told that schools will reopen in a month”.
Teachta Crowe said that he has been asking the Department of Education for months to provide details of when schools will be reopening, when the schools themselves will be told, and whether there will be any supports given for the enhanced cleaning and social distancing needs. There have been no answers forthcoming.
The Dublin South West TD said:
“An Taoiseach Micheál Martin was adamant this week that schools will be reopening at the end of August. While I agree that our children’s education has been disrupted enough by COVID, the schools have been closed for nearly five months, we have to have a plan and details of the reopening. Saying they’ll reopen does not make it so.
“We are at the end of July. If the schools are to reopen in four weeks, then the Government is leaving it far too late to allow schools have their own systems in place and make any alterations that may be needed. Leaving it so late in the day and then potentially leaving schools unable to open is ridiculous.
“Schools will have to deal with issues they have never faced before. Social distancing in classrooms that are already too full, enhanced cleaning being paid for by already stretched budgets. Our schools barely have enough money to keep buildings lit and heated as it is.
“I have been asking the Department of Education for months if there will be financial supports for schools, if schools will be given ample time to prepare for reopening. I have asked two separate Ministers for Education at this stage and there has been radio silence.
“We were told this week that the plan would be announced next week. This morning, Green leader Eamonn Ryan went on national radio and said it would ‘a week or two’. Which is it? Does this Government have any plan at all?
“This is an incredibly serious issue. We have seen the shambles that they made of the Leaving Certificate this year. We have already disrupted our children’s education enough as it is. We have to get the reopening of the schools right.
“Our children, our teachers, and our parents deserve far better treatment than they are getting from the Government because as far as I can see, they’re been played for fools.”