Teachers “very fearful” and “full of worry” ahead of return to schools after mid-term break 4 weeks ago

Teachers “very fearful” and “full of worry” ahead of return to schools after mid-term break

Some schools are reported to have been missing up to 10 teachers due to Covid-19 testing delays.

Teachers are “very fearful” and “full of worry” ahead of a return to school after the mid-term break, according to the President of the Association of Secondary School Teachers, Ireland (ASTI).

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Speaking to Morning Ireland on RTE Radio One on Tuesday, Ann Piggott said that she expects schools to be open after this week’s mid-term break, but that the prospect of returning has made teachers “very fearful” following a recent rise in Covid-19 cases and concerns over testing and tracing in schools.

“Well, teachers are very fearful and they’re full of worry,” Piggott said.

“We do expect that schools will certainly be open, we would like them to be open in a very safe way. There is a public health risk assessment as soon as any case occurs in a school and I think we’d like to know more about it.”

Piggott’s comments come amid plans for a revamped contact tracing regime to be in place in schools when they reopen next week after the mid-term break.

Discussions have been taking place between the Department of Education, the HSE and teachers’ unions about plans to accelerate testing and tracing once positive cases have been identified in schools.

As part of the plans, teams consisting of public health professionals and education officials would help to speed up the process, as well has helping to find substitute teachers where required for teacher absences linked to Covid-19 cases.

Piggott said that, as far as she was aware, some schools were missing up to 10 teachers at any one time due to Covid-19 related absences.

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Piggott added that teachers would like to have “more confidence” in the processes in place regarding testing and tracing and that, if tests could be returned in 24 hours, it “would be much better” that the current turnaround time.

"We'd like to ensure that all details are out in the open for everybody to know,” Piggott added.

“Because teachers currently, even if there is a case in schools, teachers currently are dependent on rumours.

"They would like to know for a fact - is there one case, are there three cases or are there cases in schools – how much at risk are teachers and students themselves otherwise?

"It can take two to four days for the results to come back and then the contact tracing after that is very slow as well, perhaps another four days.

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"We would welcome any rapid testing but we would certainly like it to be accurate."