Changes to the vaccine rollout plan announced by the Government yesterday have angered teachers who say that the decision is at odds with the aim to keep schools open.
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said that the new strategy, focused mostly on age and medical conditions, makes the vaccination programme fairer and more efficient.
But the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland has said it is ‘shocked and dismayed’ by the decision to abandon the vaccination of key workers, including school staff.
“The Government has continuously stated that a key objective is to keep schools open. Today’s decision is totally at odds with and undermines this objective,” said ASTI President Ann Piggott.
“Teachers and other school staff are frontline workers. We want schools to remain open, however teachers have a right to safe working environment, just as other essential workers who cannot work remotely do.”
Ann Piggott said that it is particularly reprehensible that there was no consultation prior to the announcement and that the news represents a major blow to teachers’ confidence.
“Teachers are working in difficult circumstances, many of them spending a significant part of their working day in poorly ventilated buildings and in classrooms of 28 to 30 students. Socially distancing can be a major problem.
“This is an unacceptable development and shows scant regard for teachers as frontline workers.”
The ASTI said it will be demanding an urgent meeting with the Department of Education.