ASTI seeks clarity for members before the reopening of schools
As schools prepare to re-open from next week, the secondary school teacher's union, ASTI has requested a meeting with the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HSPC) to outline the safety concerns of teachers and seek a review of the HPSC advice provided to the Department of Education.
ASTI President, Ann Piggott, said the union is receiving a high number of communications from teachers expressing a variety of concerns, including the safety of students and teachers in the high-risk category who have underlying illnesses.
“School communities have been working hard to get schools ready for re-opening,” said Ms Piggott.
“Understandably there is much trepidation amongst teachers as they begin what will no doubt prove to be an extremely challenging school year. The ASTI is seeking this meeting to have the concerns of teachers addressed, most especially teachers suffering from serious underlying illnesses.
“Given the evolving situation and the recent reappraisal of some of the advice provided by NPHET and HPSC, teachers have been expressing concerns about the health implications of a return to the classroom.”
Ms Piggott said the health and safety of all students and their teachers must be a priority. In addition, she said that as a union representing second-level teachers the ASTI is demanding that teachers’ rights under health, safety and welfare at work legislation be fully realised.
The ASTI is seeking an expansion of accommodations by the DES to provide for teachers who fall into the various risk categories, including remote teaching.
ASTI Standing Committee met yesterday and also resolved that the following issues be addressed as a matter of urgency:
- The need to maintain adherence to social distancing in schools and classrooms.
- The need to address unequal pay and to offer permanent employment to teachers in precarious employment or those returning to the system.
- The need for the provision of laptops for students and teachers to ensure continued learning in the event of enforced school closures that may arise.
- The need to stagger the return to school by students over the coming weeks.
- The need for further investment in temporary and permanent school accommodation and infrastructure given the uncertainty about the duration of the public health emergency.