8th September 2021
“A worrying number of schools leaders and teachers are, after just two weeks of opening the doors to a new school year, already at breaking point. This is not the INTO crying wolf, rather it is a simple statement of fact”, says Gerry Murphy, INTO Northern Secretary.
“The most recent DE guidance, informed by the PHA around periods of isolation and testing, is causing greater disruption to the children’s education than the previous, more sensible, approach from DE which was to have those who were close contacts to isolate for ten days.
A further reason this situation has spiralled so quickly out of control is that the PHA is woefully under resourced and has fallen short in meeting the basic needs of the school system it is supposed to be supporting. School leaders and teachers chasing down close contacts is a time consuming, administrative task which is best left to the PHA. If it were, it would free up the education professionals to get on with addressing the shortfalls in our children’s education brought about by almost two years of pandemic interrupted schooling.
The school leaders and teachers are losing what little remaining confidence they had in the Department of Education and PHA and are becoming increasingly frustrated by what is clearly a lack of support and understanding of the common reality in many schools.”
Mr Murphy continued:
“INTO demands that the onerous burden of contact tracing is removed from the school leaders and teachers. The current guidance around isolation and testing periods is failing both children and schools and placing yet another unreasonable burden on school leaders, it’s time we returned to the previous manageable approach of ten days isolation. In addition, INTO demands that DE revisits its communication strategy and begins to provide information in an accessible, timely fashion to parents so that they might more fully understand what they can do to support their local school and further help to reduce infection rates.
It is clear the situation as it cannot continue. INTO is being inundated hourly by concerns from members who are rapidly losing confidence in the system. The Department and the Executive as a whole need to listen to our members voices and make the necessary changes without any further delay.”