'High level' of Covid-19 concern remains among teachers who want a Leaving Cert plan b option from Government

Conor Ganly

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Conor Ganly

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news@leinsterexpress.ie

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Teachers say they want to be back in classroom at schools like Dunamase College in Laois

Teachers in Laois and other counties want to know if there is a Leaving Cert contingency plan and insist that 'a high level of concern' remains about reopening schools safely,  according to the Association of Secondary School Teachers in Ireland (ASTI) trade union.
 
The ASTI Central Executive Council (CEC) met on Saturday, January 23 where Covid-19 issues at second-level schools were discussed via Zoom. The CEC is made up of about 180 members from schools across Ireland.
 
Issues that caused them to reject Government reopening plans and teach remotely instead due to Covid-19 do not appear to have gone away.
 
 "Members of CEC reported a high level of concern amongst ASTI teachers regarding new Covid-19 variants, the re-opening of schools, and uncertainty surrounding Leaving Cert exam components," said a statement.
 
The union said it will survey members' views on school safety and the reopening of schools.
 
The Leaving Cert was also discussed. Teachers want to hear from the Government on what will happen if Covid-19 impacts the various elements of the exam.
 
"CEC also decided that the ASTI will demand that as a matter of urgency the Department of Education clarifies contingency measures for assessment and examination components for the Leaving Cert 2021, including oral, practical and written assessments," said a statement.
 
Speaking on RTÉ's This Week programme, Kieran Christie, General Secretary of the ASTI said the exam could happen with changes. 
 
"We would favour the ordinary Leaving Cert, to the extent that it possibly can, with possibly some adaptions, would go ahead," he said. 
Commenting after the CEC meeting on Saturday, ASTI President Ann Piggott said teachers want to be in classrooms but safely.
 
“We will be consulting with our members and demanding that appropriate measures be put in place to ensure that a safe re-opening of schools will happen. ASTI members remain committed to their students and continue to deliver teaching, learning and other supports remotely at this very difficult time.
 
"Teachers’ preference is to be in their classrooms with their students as soon as it is safe to return,” she said.