22nd Mar 2020
We have just come through one of the most difficult weeks in years in education and I would pay tribute to all of you who have handled the situation to date with professionalism and common sense.
We are entering into a further week of unknown territory. Monday will see some schools preparing for the way forward and others beginning to receive the children for whom they will have responsibility in the coming weeks.
There has been great concern about the number of children implied by the guidance so far and the ability to deal with potentially considerable numbers in a safe way.
It may be argued that the latest statement from the Minister has not gone far enough to address the issues around the children of key workers. It does, however, state clearly that such families should only bring their children to school ‘where there is no other viable option to make other arrangements’. Schools know their families and their community and can now have those conversations to ensure that the appropriate children are availing of the service they are providing.
We commend the ways in which Principals have been moving forward on balancing the health of staff with the needs of the children. We trust that the Department of Education will remember and recognise the way schools have risen to this enormous challenge in the weeks and months to come.
We still await further guidance on the vulnerable children group and the plans for Free School Meals. We will share any information we receive with you as a matter of priority.
UTU continues to be here to assist in any way possible. If you require any information or support, email firstname.lastname@example.org with your details and an Official will contact you as soon as possible.