Thursday, 19 November 2020
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
Bríd Smith (Dublin South Central, People Before Profit Alliance)
I am happy to pass on the details. I did pass on information to the Tánaiste about the forgotten families. It was a week or two ago but I have heard nothing back. The Tánaiste said he would check it out, what is happening with these 500 children who cannot access online services from schools because they are not supposed to be at home according to the official policy of the HSE and the Department of Education. In fact, they are staying at home because they do not want to bring the virus back to vulnerable siblings or parents. That is a big issue. This alone indicates there is a problem in schools.
The example I have given the Tánaiste this morning indicates there is a problem with how Medmark is determining whether it is safe for teachers to go in. This probably stems from the HSE advice but there is no doubt that principals, teachers and parents throughout this country are concerned about contact tracing and whether what is determined as a close contact in the schools is being met sufficiently. I believe we have to look at it.
We have to look at the ratio of children to teachers as well. We have to look at the question of ventilation in our schools. I know of one school in Mayo where a representative for the union kicked up about the ventilation. Within days, those responsible put in the investment and they were able to improve it. That should be done in 80% of our schools. The question of sick leave for teachers has to be addressed.