21st July 2020
Since the beginning of July, the INTO has been intensively engaged with key primary and special education stakeholders, including Department of Education officials, as preparations advance for the reopening of primary schools in six weeks’ time.
Members of the INTO leadership team have attended numerous remote and face-to-face meetings with departmental officials and with Ministers Norma Foley and Josepha Madigan.
Stakeholder consultation meetings have taken place weekly.
Following discussions involving the INTO, CPSMA and the IPPN, we are currently preparing detailed FAQs for members to support the reopening of our schools. These will be made available on our website in due course.
The union has made detailed submissions to the Department of Education on a wide range of issues relating to the reopening of schools. Engagement is continuing through this week and next. INTO expects that the following items will issue from the Department by the end of July:
- A Covid-19 School Response Plan (which details a school policy, staff induction training, appointment of lead worker representative, signage, illustrative classroom layouts, risk assessments, infection control measures and how to deal with suspected cases of Covid-19 in a school setting).
- Clarifications on the provision of additional cover for certain categories of teachers’ leave of absence. INTO has prioritised the wide use of supply panels to enable the provision of adequate cover for teachers who may present with Covid-19 symptoms and therefore be instructed not to attend their school.
- Curriculum Guidance for primary school leaders and teachers.
- A presentation on well-being in school communities.
- Guidelines to help schools with the drawdown of hand sanitisers and PPE from the government procurement portal.
- Details of a funding package for enhanced cleaning of school buildings.
INTO has provided feedback to the Department of Education on numerous draft documents over recent days and expect to do the same in the coming days.
The INTO has also engaged with the Teaching Council with a view to the fast-tracking the registration of newly qualified primary teachers in Ireland and from overseas.
INTO has sought an increase in the number of leadership and management days for teaching principals in our formal engagement with the Department of Education and Skills, in ministerial bilateral meetings, in political representations and in our oral evidence to the Oireachtas Special Committee on Covid-19 response.
Notable meetings included:
- A meeting with Minister Foley and her team on the 1st of July.
- Attendance before the Oireachtas Special Committee on Covid-19 response on the 2nd of July. (A copy of our submission is available here).
- A Stakeholder meeting with the education partners on the 3rd of July.
- INTO hosted a webinar for branch and district officers on the 3rd of July (click here to access the recording in the members’ area of the website).
- INTO met with departmental officials on the 7th of July.
- Minister Foley attended a stakeholder forum with INTO on the 13th of July
- A meeting with Minister Madigan and her team on the 14th of July.
- INTO participated in an education roundtable organised by a political party on the 15th of July.
- INTO attended a meeting with FORSA and SIPTU, organised by the Department of Education on the 16th of July.
- INTO, IPPN and CPSMA working group meetings took place regularly.
INTO summer closure
While INTO Head Office is closed for the annual summer closure the President, General Secretary and Deputy General Secretary along with some key staff will continue working with other key stakeholders to ensure that primary and special schools are provided with the support and guidance needed to reopen in a safe orderly manner at the end of August.