Fórsa has welcomed written confirmation today (Friday) from the Department of Education and Skills (DES) that SNAs are to provide a service through their existing schools.
The union had previously sought this arrangement in order to get around delays in transferring staff to the HSE. Fórsa said the new agreement ensures students will now receive a service. The DES has confirmed to schools and Education and Training Boards (ETBs) that, in the interim period pending the assignment of an individual SNA to the HSE, that SNA is available to support their allocated students through their school.
The majority of SNAs will now be able to support students directly without waiting for the HSE service to commence, many of them are already doing so.
Head of the union’s Education division Andy Pike said: “There are some 2,000 SNAs who have been Garda vetted and are available for HSE reassignment, however the majority of SNAs will now be able to support students directly without waiting for the HSE service to commence, many of them are already doing so.”
The arrangements are to continue until the end of the school year. Thereafter, a modified version of the usual July provision will be available. Discussions are now underway to consider an extended form of provision in the summer months within which SNAs could work, if they choose to do so, as in previous years.
Earlier this week Fórsa had urged the DES to allow SNAs to provide a service through their existing schools as the implementation of an earlier arrangement, which would see SNAs reallocated to the HSE during the Covid-19 pandemic, was held up by delays in Garda vetting. The union said guidelines are already in place to support the provision of special needs learning, and other supports, while schools are closed because of coronavirus restrictions.