Ireland’s schools are ‘overcrowded, underfunded and handling a global pandemic on a wing and a prayer,’ according to a Limerick principal.
It comes as main school principals warn they are investing evenings and weekends contact tracing on behalf of the HSE and arranging coronavirus testing for households.
The most recent figures from the Department of Health reveal that 12,500 adults and children, connected to more than 500 schools and child care centers have been checked so far– with 352 positive cases tape-recorded.
Ireland’s schools overcrowded, underfunded and dealing with pandemic ‘on a wing and prayer’
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On The Pat Kenny Program today, Tiernan O’Neill, Principal of Corpus Christi Primary School in Moyross, County Limerick said it is necessary that schools stay open.
” When you see the ramifications of that lockdown when we didn’t have children in the school, we just can not close at this stage,” he stated.
” But what we do require is appropriate measures to be put in place to guarantee we can remain open in a safe and sustainable manner.
” Unfortunately, the silence from the Department is deafening and no matter what fancy terminology we are using such as bubbles and pods, our schools are overcrowded and underfunded and are now dealing with an international pandemic on a wing and prayer.”
Tiernan O’Neill, Principal of Corpus Christi Primary School in Moyross, County Limerick
Mr O’Neill was speaking after it emerged that thousands of COVID-19 clients will be asked to carry out their own contact tracing this week due to the fact that the system is under excessive stress.
He stated the Government “stopped working to deliver a fit-for-purpose fast-track, school-specific testing and tracing system” when schools initially reopened.
” I have been left in the invidious position of contacting personnel and moms and dads at weekends and at night-time revealing health choices that I am in no way certified to make,” he said.
” The system is entirely overwhelmed and you are handling remarkable people in the public health system– dazzling individuals– but it is significantly obvious that the public health preventative measures for our school neighborhoods are completely inadequate and the system is literally, absolutely overwhelmed.”
On Call for Ireland?
He said the pressure on the system is harder to understand provided 50,00 0 people who reacted to the HSE’s ‘On Call for Ireland’ appeal right at the start of the pandemic could have been put to work contact tracing
“Due to the fact that we are now in a Level 5 context, which is a remarkable context and schools are doing incredible work across the nation, however sadly the work being done by schools, for me, is not matched by an amazing solution-focused response from Federal government,” he said.
” We have to open however I am not confident in the systems and steps that are in location and, what we have not done over the last 8 months, I don’t know how we are going to perform in the next 7 to 10 days to permit schools to securely reopen come November 2nd.”
Mr O’Neill stated that, as a DEIS school, the children at Moyross are typically facing “much of the societal ills that influence on 21 st Century Ireland” and will discover it incredibly challenging to access online knowing.
” You have kids ideal across this country that are dealing with homelessness, that are handling dependency and are dealing with psychological health concerns,” he said.
” If we were to go back to lockdown, how can you expect a young mom with maybe three or four children in emergency situation accommodation– it could be a one-bedroom hotel space– to attempt and engage with online knowing?
” It is pie in the sky things.”
He said the warmth, the love, the empathy and the empathy revealed by teachers around the nation to their students is “absolutely extraordinary.”
” It is powerful to be part of and to see the assistance we are obtaining from moms and dads and the assistance we are obtaining from the wider community,” he said. “It is definitely incredible
” It is absolutely amazing however the one place we are doing not have the assistance from is our Government.
” That is where we are doing not have the assistance from now. Schools can do no more and parents can do no more.”
He said closing schools again will not only impact on kids’s education but will be really harmful for their emotional and social development.
” At the end of the day, what is education about? It has to do with relationships,” he said.
” That is absolutely crucial and it has actually been even more amplified by this pandemic.
” We can not establish those relationships by means of tablets and laptops. It has to be finished with the kids here on site however, for that to occur, we require clear protocols that allow us to move forward within this once-in-a-century pandemic.”
You can listen back here:
Ireland’s schools overcrowded, underfunded and handling pandemic ‘on a wing and prayer’
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