A Galway West TD has raised the issue of Galway City based Rosedale School for children with severe or profound intellectual disabilities with Minister for Education Joe McHugh in the Dáil.
Deputy Mairéad Farrell advised the Minister of the need for a school based July programme for these children and requested that the school be reclassified as an essential service to ensure that it is not closed again in potential future waves of COVID-19.
She explained that Rosedale is not simply a school, but that it is the ‘only social setting for these children outside their family homes’.
“The children at Rosedale receive support such as Physiotherapy, Speech and Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy and they learn life skills and independence,” said the Sinn Féin TD.
“The children have received no support from these services since Rosedale closed. The parents can see the detrimental effect this is having on their children’s development, their children are regressing.”
Addressing the issue of the July provision, Deputy Farrell said that parents are deeply concerned that if a second wave of COVID-19 hits Ireland, these schools will be closed again.
She asked if this service could be reclassified as an essential service given that their children’s needs are more complex and their conditions are far more profound than in other schools.
“The class sizes are limited to 4-6 pupils, with many of the children having limited movement, the teachers have control over hygiene and are fully versed in infection control, given the hardship on families, along with the regression of physical, social and mental development of these children can these schools reopen immediately?”
Responding to Deputy Farrell and her colleague Réada Cronin TD who also raised concerns, Minister Joe McHugh said that the two Sinn Féin Deputies “spoke about parents’ fears of regression and the gaps that are very obvious in their child’s education, something we have also identified in the Department”.
He said that this is why his Department is very anxious to have this more expanded summer programme.
“It will also be a different summer programme where we will work very closely with the Department of Health,” said Minister McHugh.
“One of the pilot projects I was really anxious to progress in my time as Minister was the school inclusion model where we have teachers working side by side with the health professionals, including speech and language therapists, occupational therapists and physiotherapists.
“We will ensure that the co-operation between the Departments of Education and Skills, and Health over recent weeks will not be lost.”