Wed, Aug 19, 2020
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Green Party TD for Dublin Central, and Just Transition Greens member, Neasa Hourigan has said that the Department of Education must facilitate the recruitment and hiring of additional special needs assistants (also known as SNAs) if schools are to re-open in September.
Speaking today, Ms Hourigan said that SNAs may not be able to work effectively in ‘pods’ due to the nature of their work:
“Many SNAs work with multiple children across several classrooms in an individual school, meaning that the ‘pod’ or ‘bubble’ idea for re-opening schools won’t work for them. The social distancing advice will also be incredibly challenging when meeting the needs of children who require additional supports.”
“Covid represents a significant risk to SNAs, who do largely under-appreciated and tireless work as it is and often pick up the slack in classrooms with high student teacher ratios. It is possible that the nature of schools during Covid will either require them to take unnecessary risks or make them unable to assist children who need them more than ever following their extended absence from school.”
“As a parent whose young child is under the care of an SNA it is worrying that the roadmap the Department published only mentions hiring additional SNAs in the event of absences. This does nothing to address issues with the ‘pod’ model, which either makes that model problematic in schools where SNAs work, or means that some kids won’t get the support they need to perform in school.”
Several SNA groups have raised concerns with the Department over hiring and the risk of exposure to Covid, and an SNA who spoke to the Just Transition Greens described treatment of SNAs as the “one weak link in the post primary sector.”
The Just Transition Greens have written to Minister Foley for clarification.
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