Gary Gannon TD

It is about time the Minister took control and demonstrated some leadership

The Minister for Education is missing in action as schools struggle to cope with a huge increase in the incidence of covid, according to Social Democrats Education Spokesperson Gary Gannon.

“Our school communities are being crushed under the pressure of covid. They are struggling to suppress the virus in classrooms and scrambling around to find substitute teachers – which is being compounded by an absence of leadership and guidance from the Department.

“Where is the Minister for Education? She is missing in action. Antigen testing in schools has been promised for months and there is still no indication of when it will be rolled out. Meanwhile, nothing has been done to address the ongoing substitution crisis in schools.

“The government repeatedly states that keeping schools open is a priority, as it should be. Yet, it refuses to give schools the tools that would help them to do this safely. If we want schools to withstand this latest surge of covid, then it is essential that close contacts of confirmed cases are identified quickly. This cannot be done in the absence of a programme of antigen testing.

“We all know that speed is of the essence when dealing with a virus that is growing exponentially in the community. Why is it that the Minister, and her Department, have failed to learn this lesson?

“An expert group, chaired by the State’s chief scientific advisor Mark Ferguson, recommended antigen testing in schools as far back as March – eight months ago. The ECDC recommended antigen testing in schools from at least July. Despite this, we are still none-the-wiser about when this programme will commence.

“This is not good enough. It is about time the Minister took control and demonstrated some leadership.”

17 November, 2021


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