Seanad debates

Friday, 16 October 2020

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business

 

10:30 am

Photo of Gerard CraughwellGerard Craughwell (Independent)

I compliment my colleague, Senator Murphy, on his speech and agree with everything he has said.

We were promised that, when the schools reopened, there would be no particular problem with substitute teachers, etc. A number of principals of primary schools have contacted me in the past few days about the difficulty in finding substitutes. I was not a primary school teacher so I am not sure how the system works but I understand there are primary and secondary groups of substitutes. One principal told me of ringing 34 substitutes from the secondary list and being unable to get one into the school.

We are constantly being told by the Minister for Education and Skills that schools are not a source of transmission of the virus. I agree that the discipline in schools is excellent. Anyone can take a walk up the street by the Shelbourne Hotel any day when schools are out and watch hundreds of students coming towards them. I am over 60 and am petrified of this virus. I have met people in my local area who are absolutely petrified of children coming out of schools and there are a number of schools around my area.

I propose an amendment to the Order of Business whereby the Minister with responsibility for education can come here and explain to the House the plans that are in place to ensure that there are sufficient numbers of substitute teachers available to principals of national schools. I also want to be given the scientific evidence that states that children do not spread the virus. A scientific piece of research was published yesterday which stated that children are superspreaders. The bottom line is that I want somebody to come to the House today to deal with that matter. The Minister told me in Seanad Éireann that schools are not a problem. They are a problem if we do not have substitutes and we do not have a way of marshalling students as they leave the school.

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