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To: Norma Foley, Minister for Education and Skills

Funding Essential to Fully Reopen Schools

Parents for Change is calling for immediate funding and investment in schools and Early Learning and Care facilities to allow them to open safely and fully in September 2020.

Why is this important?

Parents for Change is a grassroots activist group helping parents assert their voice in Irish society.

The right to education is at the forefront of our constitution. Schools are important for the social, emotional and educational development of our children. Schools also provide the economic benefit of stable and cost-effective childcare in a society with a desperately inadequate childcare system.

There has been a glaring omission in the roadmap to opening Irish society: schools. There are less than 7 weeks left until the start of the next educational term, yet there is no definitive plan for the education of our children. If the rest of Irish society can open safely, then so too can our schools, with the proper planning and investment. Other countries have shown us that this can be done safely and current HSE research suggests that schools are not a high risk setting for Covid 19.

Where there is political will, there is a way.

Parents are no longer willing or able to juggle working from home, caring for children and home schooling. Parents accepted this as an emergency measure, but this is no longer acceptable. Plans for blended learning are not a sustainable option for parents or children.

The Covid 19 crisis has highlighted many inadequacies in the Irish educational system: years of systemic underfunding; poor pupil/teacher ratios (one of the highest in the OECD); poor school infrastructure including small classrooms; the use of prefabs and no hot water etc.

The Department of Education needs to show decisive leadership on the issue of schools reopening fully. Schools cannot operate in a vacuum and direction must come from the top down.

Parents for Change supports teachers, principals and teachers’ unions in their drive to open schools safely and are therefore advocating for immediate funding packages to be made available.

If funding is in place schools can:

· Open fully in September 2020.
· Hire more teachers/SNAs to reduce class sizes and allow for social distancing.
· Use substitute teachers to fill in for staff absences due to Covid or other illnesses.
· Build temporary or permanent structures on school grounds to allow for smaller classes/social distancing.
· Hire alternative venues for classes to allow for social distancing (local sports clubs etc).
· Hire more cleaners.
· Improve cleaning and hygiene standards, including availability of hot water.
· Provide face coverings if age appropriate.
· Implement strong policies on personal responsibility and sickness within the school community.
· Arrange staggered pick up and drop off times for pupils.
· Provide safe school transportation.
· Provide technology to pupils where necessary to allow them to participate in online learning if in social isolation/quarantine.
· Provide extra support for vulnerable children where there might be limited capacity for teaching in the home and ensure they are not left behind.

If blended learning is used, it must be for short, specific time periods (e.g. educating children during social isolation/quarantine). Parents need to be able to access government funded paid leave from work during this period and the government must negotiate this with employers.

Schools, ECL and childcare are the bedrock of the economy and should be treated like frontline, essential services. Without them, parents cannot participate in the economic recovery of our country. We must invest now in education both for the health of our economy and our nation. We cannot afford not to.

Please sign our petition.



2020-07-13 22:11:55 +0100

100 signatures reached

2020-07-13 11:43:28 +0100

50 signatures reached

2020-07-13 09:55:36 +0100

25 signatures reached

2020-07-13 09:22:08 +0100

10 signatures reached