So the schools are set for gradual re-opening. ARE WE SURE IT’S SAFE? The government have had nearly a year to improve safety, to ensure proper space and ventilation, to employ more teachers. But have they? Not that I can see. Our communities include the children. They must be safe if the wider community is also to be safe. The worry is YOU CAN TRUST FF/FG/GREENS ON NOTHING!

I asked the Tánaiste yesterday what had been done about making schools safe, or even safer. All very well talking about opening up to the schools, but 16-18 year olds are a particularly high-risk group. So, during their closure, have they improved school class rooms? recruited more teachers, improved ventilation? Still waiting.

We can’t make a mockery of being “…all in it together”, not if we want the continued support of the most important people – the workers. If we want to get through this pandemic, then we have to ensure that workers are looked after. Cuts to the wage subsidy scheme, leaving people on €203 a week is shameful. As is the ‘claw-back’ of various tax breaks that were helping people along. The Govt must insist that employers top-up workers wages – it’s not for luxury – it’s to help get through this rotten time.

That children with special needs can go back to school soon is to be welcomed. But it must be safe. That’s only fair to the children themselves, their families and the teachers and school staff, and their families. And in particular, safe for the special needs assistants (SNAs) who do heroic work, the nature of which often leaves them most exposed to catching the virus. Schools must appropriately equipped and managed to ensure optimum safety.

Parents involved with Dublin 12 campaign 4 ASD specific school &Inclusion, really want to progress the opening of the ASD special facility in Crumlin, and they really want, and need, Ministers Norma Foley and Josepha Madigan to visit as promised, in order to do so. C’mon Ministers, theses families have been waiting long enough!

 

A WAR ON TEACHERS? The risk of Covid transmission is schools may be being downplayed, but not everyone is assured, and understandably. Forgotten Families Ireland have children among them that cannot attend school, because of concern for vulnerable parents or siblings at home. Very concerning is the attitude to teachers when they are pregnant, as are basic issues like properly equipping and ventilating schools. I raised these issues with Varadkar today. We have to keep up the pressure – would you bet on FFG promises?

500 CHILDREN DENIED SCHOOLING. Forgotten Families have been trying to ensure that their children receive the supports they need. These are children who can’t attend school for fear of bringing Covid back home, a home where there is someone very vulnerable, a parent, a sibling, whatever. I raised this with the Táiniste, Leo Varadkar today. Let’s see if they’ll deliver.