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19 Jan 2022

Thousands of teachers set to be absent when schools reopen

Thousands of teachers set to be absent when schools reopen

As many as 8,000 teachers could be absent due to Covid-19 when schools return on Thursday, according to a teacher's union. 

The General Secretary of the Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO) John Boyle said that 15% of teaching staff, around seven or eight thousand teachers will be absent because of Covid-19

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland earlier today, Mr Boyle said that the term ahead, up to mid-term, is going to be an extremely difficult one. He said there will be situations whereby children will have to have classes at home.

He added that priority will be given to those children who "don't thrive in the remote learning scenario", particularly younger children and those with additional needs.

"There isn't a hope" that there would be enough replacement teachers, Mr Boyle said, with concern about the challenges involved in keeping the system going. 

He called for the reintroduction of contact tracing, and noted that over 60,000 primary school children did contract the virus before Christmas. Much more had to be done about filtration in classrooms, Mr Boyle said.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education described a meeting on Tuesday with the unions and health officials as “productive”.

“Education stakeholders were briefed by the minister and public health representatives on how the Covid-19 mitigation measures in place in schools have been reviewed by public health and will continue in place in the coming term,” the spokesperson said.

“Public health remains of the view that these mitigation measures are effective and appropriate.

“Furthermore, public health officials advised that there is no public health rationale to delay the reopening of schools later this week," the education spokesperson said. 

“Schools will operate in line with their Covid-19 response plans, which set out a range of mitigation measures for schools, including hand hygiene, mask-wearing, and social distancing.

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