Social Democrats spokesperson for Education, Gary Gannon TD, has called for teachers, SNAs and school staff to be prioritised for the Covid-19 vaccine.

Deputy Gannon stated:

“Today, UNICEF issued a press statement calling for teachers to be prioritised for the Covid-19 vaccine worldwide, following healthcare workers and high-risk populations.

“Yet, in our current strategy, they are the 11th group out of a 15-category plan. The further down the strategy they are also means the further along in the school year our educators can expect to receive the vaccine.

“Let us remember that our schools are workplaces which have been chronically underfunded and under-supported for decades, resulting in overcrowded classrooms, for which we can embarrassingly lay claim to having the highest classroom sizes in Europe. These classrooms have poor infrastructure and severe ventilation issues – the answer to which has just been to open the windows.

“All of this has exacerbated the struggle to keep our schools, our children and our educators safe during the pandemic.

“The interruption of learning due to teacher absences is a very real problem many schools are grappling with. In fact, 15% of teachers had Covid-related absences since schools reopened in September to the end of October. While I wait for more up to date data on this from the Department of Education, I imagine that this figure is much higher now.

“As we have seen with Claremorris Boys’ National School, the autonomy and trust given to schools to best manage Covid-19 is only placed on schools when and if suited by the Department of Education. If we want our schools to stay open and for reliable teaching and learning to take place in them – and if we want our teachers and SNAs to have a safe workplace – then they have to be prioritised in the rollout of the vaccine.”

December 15, 2020

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