Bríd Smith calls for early closure of schools over Christmas

Dublin People 17 Dec 2020

People-Before-Profit TD Bríd Smith has called on the Government to close schools early and to remain closed for at least one week after the Christmas break.

The call comes after a virtual meeting where parents from Forgotten Families and Parents United and teachers from the INTO and ASTI were present.

Deputy Smith heard testimony from dozens of families, parents or siblings who are left without an in-person education for their children who have underlying conditions.

Children with underlying conditions have been receiving their education online only, as is departmental policy. There are about 500 affected families across the country.

Deputy Smith said: “There is growing evidence that schools are places where Covid can spread and are not as safe as we are repeatedly told.

“Statistics and evidence show that increasingly schools are the basis for community infection.

“Other countries have taken the decision to keep schools closed for a longer period over the Christmas break in order to help suppress the rate of infection of Covid-19.

“The ECDC (European Centre for Disease Control) has suggested this but our Government are turning a deaf ear to this advice and to the evidence.”

Deputy Smith says that the Government must listen to staff and parents “stop ignoring the evidence.”

“We need a complete review of our Covid schools’ policy that takes account of the definition of close contacts, the lack of social distancing and the poor ventilation in 80% of our school buildings.”

The Dublin-South Central TD added that teachers and parents want to see a serious attempt by the Department of Education to deliver on-line education to those who need it now and to extend this to all schools in early January when the country is likely to face a rise in cases of infection.

“This issue needs urgent attention and despite the ending of the Dáil term pressure must be kept up on the Government to do the right thing and keep schools closed after Christmas.

“NPHET need to pay attention to the warnings and testimony of parents.”

Deputy Smith said she is working with parents and teachers to provide a dossier of evidence and testimony to the Government, the Department of Education, the Chief Medical Officer and NPHET.

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