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lifting lockdon 'No point' in reopening schools on a phased basis, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin says

"There is no point in opening up just for the sake of it, and then a few weeks afterwards having to go close down again."

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Labour Party education spokesman Aodhán Ó Ríordáin

Labour Party education spokesman Aodhán Ó Ríordáin

Labour Party education spokesman Aodhán Ó Ríordáin

There is "no point" in reopening schools “if we close them again a few weeks afterwards," Labour's education spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has said.

Primary and secondary schools are reportedly likely to open on a phased basis over a three-week period in March but Deputy Ó Ríordáin said the real issue is down to suppression of Covid-19.

"Everybody wants the schools to go back,” he told Newstalk Breakfast. “I want the schools to go back - school closure is profoundly damaging for children and for young people.

"However there's no point in opening up schools if we close them again a few weeks afterwards."

"We have to be very serious about what the real issue here is,” he added. “It’s not people on either side of tables in the Department of Education, it's actually the virus.

"The more that we suppress the virus.... the more chance we have of keeping schools open.

"And it is difficult to see how we can do that if we have a rolling lockdown-open up-close down scenario.

"We need agreement - and with the best will in the world, you won't be going into classrooms and neither will I - and there are people who will be.

"And these are teachers and SNAs who need to know that it's safe".

"If this is going to be successful and we're going to stay open, then we have to have agreement.

"There is no point in opening up just for the sake of it, and then a few weeks afterwards having to go close down again".

He said the situation was different when the schools were open before Christmas.

"We weren't dealing with a different variant, we weren't dealing with the level of infection, we weren't dealing with the level of fatalities - so we have to be real about the difference between pre-Christmas and post-Christmas.

"And we also have to be real about what happens if another variant comes on the scene in April or May.

"So the point is that if we suppress this virus to a successful level, then we can re-open schools in full confidence that we don't have to close them again".

But Áine Lynch, CEO of the National Parents Council said we need schools re-opened “as soon as possible” as she revealed how a survey of parents showed “the desperate situation some families are in”.

"We just need schools re-opened as soon as possible, and I think when they hear March and over a three week period it just feels a very long way away for a lot of families,” she said.

"I think what parents want is a certainty, not just now but into the future, that the schools will open and stay open.

"And I think what they need to hear is about public health advice".

"I think we need to get to a situation where we're all very clear, based on public health advice, when the schools re-open and how they stay open - not if they stay open, but the plan in place to keep them open.”

She added that: "I think once schools close it can be very, very difficult to re-open them, as we're experiencing now.

"So I think there needs to be a proper, structured plan in place to re-open them as quickly as possible".


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