Government must get serious about safety in schools – PBP

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A People Before Profit representative in Galway has said the Government ‘must get serious’ about safety in schools – so that they can remain open.

Adrian Curran said children need to be in school and that education is vital to a child’s development.

He said that the long periods of time that our schools have been shut has put a huge strain on families and has taken a toll on young people who are missing out on this most important cornerstone of their development.

“So why then does our government not do all they can to ensure that schools can remain open?” asked Mr Curran.

“Since the start of this pandemic, parents, pupils and teachers have been calling on the government to put the safety measures in place that would allow the schools to operate safely and remain open, so that students can continue their education with minimum disruption.”

He said that one of the key calls has been for HEPA filters to be provided for every classroom – a relatively inexpensive measure that nonetheless provides considerable protection against transmission of COVID-19.

“But the government has failed to do even this. Instead, schools have been forced to either buy their own filters or leave windows and doors wide open, resulting in students and teachers working in freezing conditions.

“Hardly conducive to a young person’s education, not to mention the teachers and other school staff.

“Other basic measures that have repeatedly been requested include contact tracing in schools carried out by the HSE, serial screening and testing for students and staff, full vaccination made available (on an opt-in basis) for 5-12 year olds before returning to school, boosters offered immediately to 12-18 year olds, and remote learning made available to give medically vulnerable children and families a choice.”

Curran said that if the government was really serious about keeping schools open, they would put these measures in place.

“But instead, they are letting the situation get wildly out of control – all but ensuring the schools will eventually have to close,” he said.

“Many vulnerable families and children have had no choice but to keep their kids at home, due to the total lack of safety in schools.

“These children have been completely isolated from their peers, and deprived by this government of their basic human right to an education. It is unforgivable.”