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virus fears ASTI directs teachers not to cooperate with plans to reopen schools

The Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland (ASTI) is calling on its union members to instead teach remotely and defy the Government’s plan to allow students into school three days a week.

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Harry Rendón https://www.harryr

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Second-level teachers are being urged not to attend school on Monday as pressure mounts on Education Minister Norma Foley to reverse the decision to partially reopen schools for Leaving Cert students.

The Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland (ASTI) is calling on its union members to instead teach remotely and defy the Government’s plan to allow students into school three days a week.

It follows a meeting between the union, public health officials and the Department of Education.

Speaking after the meeting, ASTI President Ann Piggott said: “The ASTI has repeatedly sought sufficient assurances that schools are safe for students and teachers at this time, in the context of the new variant of Covid-19 circulating in the community and the alarmingly high numbers.

“We engaged with the Department of Education and with public health officials today. Unfortunately, the assurances we sought have not been forthcoming.”

However, a Government source said the Department of Education is confident that schools are a safe environment and should be allowed to reopen.

The plan to allow Leaving Cert students attend school three days a week has been met with widespread opposition from teachers, parents, pupils and special needs assistants.

Secondary school principals are pleading with the Government to reverse its decision on the partial reopening of schools as they have “grave concerns” over the safety of staff and students.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr Tony Holohan advised the Government that the full reopening of schools would “constitute a very significant additional risk” as the country battles with an unprecedented level of Covid-19 transmission in the community.

In a letter to Health Minister Stephen Donnelly, dated January 5, Dr Holohan noted that data received by the National Public Health Emergency Team shows schools are a “safe environment”.

However, given the current epidemiological situation, “significant levels of mobility and linked activity” generated by the reopening of schools would pose too risky, he said.

A Government source said the Department of Education has received further advice from Nphet that "schools will now be safer by default" due to the strict Level 5 restrictions being imposed elsewhere.


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