Government Ministers and the Department of Education are expected to meet this afternoon, and a decision will be made on the reopening of schools. Teachers Unions in Ireland have all issued statements ahead of these meetings, and we’ve compiled them below for you:

ASTI: Health and safety must be the priority for re-opening schools.

The Standing Committee of the ASTI met today to assess the position regarding the reopening of schools in the context of the prevalence of Covid-19 nationwide.

The meeting heard of the unease of members regarding the health and safety of teachers, students and school communities.

The ASTI is deeply concerned that the Minister for Education may re-open schools without putting in place additional measures necessary to safeguard the health and safety of students and school staff.  This would constitute an unacceptable risk in the context of the Omicron wave. There is uncertainty regarding the impact in schools of this significantly more transmissible variant. 

The ASTI is calling for updated risk assessments to be presented prior to schools re-opening later this week.

“The priority must be that students and school staff can learn and work in an environment where there are appropriate safety measures in place to protect all concerned,” said ASTI President Eamon Dennehy.  

The ASTI will be proposing a delayed and staggered reopening of schools at a meeting tomorrow with Department of Education and Public Health Officials. Face to face teaching with examination classes should be prioritised. Key concerns include:

  • Safety of school communities.
  • Staff shortages due to Covid.
  • Inadequate ventilation and lack of HEPA filtration units.
  • Provision of medical grade masks (e.g. FFP2).
  • Risks to medically high-risk individuals.

We will be asking the Minister to consider making antigen tests available for all parents and their children to be used prior to going to school as a supplement to the existing testing and tracing regime in second-level schools.

The ASTI will also be calling for the speedy rollout of HEPA filtration units. It beggars belief that almost two years into this pandemic this basic facility is not in place where necessary.

TUI: Additional resourcing for safeguards must immediately be provided to schools where required.

At a meeting of the education stakeholders today, the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) once again stated that the Department of Education must provide clear guidance and access to expertise on ventilation and related issues on an ongoing basis so that schools can best use the resources made available. The union also made clear that if individual schools require additional funding over and above what has been provided for such solutions, this must immediately be made available.  

The union also wants the Department to proactively investigate and invest in any solutions that would further boost safety in the months ahead.    

TUI has repeatedly made the point that that as a result of historic underinvestment by international standards, Irish schools have been forced to tackle the huge challenges of COVID-19 with large class sizes, over-stretched pastoral support systems for students and education facilities often unsuited to modern teaching and learning.

This systemic malaise must be remedied through a significant multi-annual increase in education funding and dedicated capital budgets for school building programmes from the next Budget onwards. 


We expect to be briefed this afternoon on the review of public health measures in schools, which INTO requested public health undertake. In particular we want to see quicker response times and interventions from public health when multiple cases arise in primary schools.

We are reiterating our call for a more creative, effective and widespread public awareness campaign to be initiated by government before schools reopen, to ensure parents and pupils are aware of the symptoms of Covid-19 and of the absolute necessity for full compliance with infection prevention and control measures in primary and special schools.

At our meeting with Department of Education and public health officials we will be seeking full clarity on the progress of the children’s vaccination programme and a fast tracking of the booster programme for those aged 20-29, who work in crowded settings like schools.

As Covid-19 is rampant in communities, we want an assurance that government will do more to ensure that infection levels within primary schools are being closely monitored and taken seriously moving forward. School principals must be able to rely on adequate support.

We will not accept a lower level of public health protection for our members, who are close contacts and who care for the largest cohort of unvaccinated individuals, than those protections available to all other workers, many of whom have been advised to work from home.

To address the ongoing sub crisis we believe that third + fourth year student teachers will have to be made available throughout the coming weeks to act in the place of teachers who are unable to attend their schools due to being close contacts or having contracted Covid-19.

It will also be necessary for the Department of Education to expand the substitute supply panel scheme to cover all primary and special schools.

We will update members following our meeting with Minister Foley and officials from both the Department of Education and Public Health later today.

Help support Cork Safety Alerts by becoming a member – Click Here