News & Media

Political leadership needed on reopening of schools

28 May 2020

Statement by Senator Rebecca Moynihan
Spokesperson on Housing, Local Government and Heritage

Labour Party Senator, Rebecca Moynihan, has said that the Minister for Education must guarantee that schools will reopen in September.

Senator Moynihan said:

“The Minister for Education confirmed this morning that it would be difficult to allow all students back to our schools in September if the two metre rule is still in place.

“Having limited numbers of students back in the classroom would be challenging not just for teachers but for students who just want to get back to some kind of normal school life.

“We don’t know what the Covid situation will look like in September but if we are to look at the downward trend of cases and deaths being recorded, surely we will be in a different space in September.

“It is time for public health officials to take stock of where we might be in September and how we can ensure that as many students as possible can get back to school in September in a safe and workable manner.

“The Minister this morning seemed to put an emphasis on blended learning as an option to get around not being able to have as many students in the classroom. This is not a viable option. We have seen through this pandemic that the digital divide in our classrooms is significant. Some students need extra support that only works in a classroom setting. More consideration needs to be given to this proposal as it isn’t going to work for students who need a significant amount of support.

“Schools need clarity on what is going to happen in September as soon as possible as if they need to reconfigure classrooms, plan for extra sanitation measures or order PPE, they need as much time as possible. Grant aid for schools also needs to be rolled out to help schools prepare for students to return to the classroom.

“We need workable solutions to get students and teachers back to school in September and the Minister should be planning with that intention. We need political leadership in education, not passing the buck and hiding behind the NPHET.”