27th March 2020
Circular 0024/2020 – Coronavirus (COVID-19) Delay Phase Arrangements for Teachers and Special Needs Assistants employed in recognised primary and post primary schools
The Department of Education and Skills has issued Circular 0024/2020 today, which sets out additional guidance on leave arrangements as a result of the current pandemic.
Primary school principals and teachers are providing an ongoing and important educational service to their pupils throughout the current health crisis, with schools across the country closed until the 19th of April. While we appreciate some of our members will wish to volunteer and support their communities, during this period, their first duty will remain to their student body. Education is an essential service for our students.
Today’s circular advises us that further guidance will issue next week on the temporary assignment of certain school staff by their board of management, in support of this great national effort. INTO does not expect that teachers will be called upon in this manner.
Throughout the course of the last week, in numerous interactions with the Department of Education and Skills, they have made it clear that the primary objective of teachers should be the facilitation of their pupils learning.
The circular reiterates that the primary focus for our members as follows:
The primary focus of employees in the education sector is on continuing to deliver tuition to all pupils during the current school closures. All schools and teachers are required to continue to plan lessons and where possible, provide online resources for pupils or online lessons where schools are equipped to do so. Schools should also take into consideration pupils that may not have access to online facilities. Employers will need to consider how best to utilise employees to facilitate the delivery of educational services.
This is a difficult time for many parents and guardians as they navigate the uncharted territory of home-learning; it can be hard to know what to do or where to start. As a teacher, you have invaluable knowledge you can share online to the benefit of others.
Education is an essential service and we need to ensure, so far as reasonably possible, that the children in our schools and classes continue to engage with a range of learning activities.
By offering guidance and practical advice, you’ll be providing vital tools to those managing home learning for the first time and can help keep children’s learning on track during this unprecedented time while schools are closed. Post links to recommended teaching resources that provide useful material for parents and guardians who are suddenly feeling the pressure of creating their own curriculum. It’s also a good idea to reassure families who are struggling that they’re not expected to re-create school at home. Children may be feeling anxious and if they’re finding it difficult to keep up with structured learning, they can learn other life skills at home through cooking, baking, physical exercise, play and meditation. INTO has compiled a comprehensive list of home-schooling resources for you to share.
The Professional Development Support Service (PDST) has assembled a list of resources for distance learning and this can be accessed at https://www.pdst.ie/DistanceLearning. In a recent trend, teachers are taking to social media to offer help to their online community. In a post, teachers state their area of expertise, whether they teach in primary or secondary, and offer their support to parents and guardians who are at home with young children or home-schooling. This can be a great support but ensure that you prioritise the learning of the children in your own school.
Members are reminded that if you are providing support online, consider setting up an email/social media presence specifically for professional purposes rather than providing access to your personal account.