Chris Bailie:Workers Party,Oldpark DEA representative has strongly criticised the Minister for Education who has shown complete contempt for special schools and their teaching staff.

He said ‘Along with their colleagues in nurseries, special schools remain open. The Government have shown a complete lack of understanding and knowledge regarding what the role of special education teachers entails. Children in these settings are required to be in an environment where they feel safe and secure. These teachers do an amazing job supporting parents and meeting the sensory and relationship needs of the children in these settings. Unfortunately, it is not possible to do this role while wearing PPE or social distancing.

If nurseries and special schools are to remain open, then the government must at the very least offer staff to be tested weekly and at best offer the vaccine to these staff members. As things currently stand, staff are at risk, there is no guidance or support for them. They want to do their job, but they want to do it safely, to protect themselves, their students and the families of both themselves and their students.

These workers are not replaceable or expendable they do a much needed and much valued role. They deserve protection not contempt. The Minster and the Assembly as a whole should be ashamed of themselves for their total lack of willingness and capability to lead during this crisis.’