15th May 2020
The Department of Education and Skills has this evening published guidelines for schools in respect of access to school buildings in limited circumstances from Monday, May 18. The guidelines should be read in conjunction with public health advice and the Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business.
Engagement between the INTO and the Department of Education continues on the key issues to be considered ahead of a proposed reopening of our schools in September. In the interim period, there is a provision for staff to access school buildings in limited circumstances from next Monday.
The guidelines state that schools should continue to facilitate remote working. However, for those staff members who, for exceptional reasons, require access to school premises/facilities, they are owed a duty of care. During the COVID-19 shutdown of schools, any access to a school must be approved by the school Principal or a person designated by the Principal.
Access to schools is limited to the following activities:
- Supporting the continuity of learning for the remainder of this school year.
- Organising, preparing and disseminating books and other learning materials to students.
- Online support for the continuity of learning.
The DES have also clarified that travel to school in these limited circumstances constitutes a necessary journey.
Travel to schools from the 18th May for essential work that cannot be done remotely is considered a necessary journey. Social distancing and compliance with public health guidance is the key requirement, access should be minimised and only in circumstances where the work cannot be done remotely.
A copy of the guidelines is available here.
There remain some issues not specifically covered in this guidance note and INTO will seek additional clarification in respect of these as required.