Talks on partial resumption of schools-based special education classes still underway

The union that represents Ireland’s special needs assistants (SNAs) said last evening (Friday) that efforts to achieve a partial reopening of primary sector special schools and special classes were still underway. Fórsa, which represents over 12,000 SNAs, said that agreement had yet to be reached on enhanced safety measures that would facilitate the safe resumption of services at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The union said it hoped to be able to advise SNAs that it was safe to co-operate with the phased resumption of in-school services to children with special educational needs as soon as possible. But it said this would require agreement on measures that would underpin the safety of students and staff.

Fórsa said talks with the education department had not concluded, and that a number of issues remained to be resolved. These include the safety of SNAs at high risk of Covid infection, and the absence of childcare arrangements for workers now that the Government’s level five restrictions had closed schools and childcare services.

The union said it was working hard to speed the resumption of services to students with special educational needs, and to build confidence in the safety of classrooms among staff, students and parents. But it said agreement had not yet been reached.