Reopening our schools – stakeholder consultation begins in earnest

INTO has called, over recent weeks, for formal engagement with the Department of Education and Skills (DES) on the practical solutions which will be needed to safely reopen our schools in September, in line with public health advice.

Following publication of a detailed member-led submission last week, INTO has today attended its first meeting with the DES, represented by General Secretary, John Boyle. A sub-group of primary education stakeholders was convened to develop detailed plans for the reopening of our primary schools.

The meeting focussed on the enormous logistical operation which will be required, noting the need for meticulous planning and clear guidance. INTO underscored the need for practical guidance and protocols to issue early to facilitate planning at a local level. The DES acknowledged that provision of such guidance is essential and confirmed its desire to reduce the burden on schools in this respect. International experiences will be studied to inform planning for the reopening of our schools at the beginning of the next academic year, department officials have also confirmed.

Stakeholders in attendance represented some 43,000 primary teachers and school management. Engagement is expected to continue in the weeks ahead.

INTO General Secretary John Boyle said:

I’m pleased that the department has taken many of our members concerns and suggestions on board and initiated this formal engagement process. We will endeavour to work constructively with all stakeholders in the primary education sector to ensure that when our schools reopen, we can be confident that pupils and teachers will return to an environment where every precaution is taken to ensure their safety. Early guidance is essential to facilitate planning at a local level, a point I reiterated today.”