As teachers unions describe the situation for schools in the north as ‘dire’ it is vital that the Minister for Education ensures that the roll out of air infiltration units is completed quickly and efficiently according to Gemma Weir, Workers’ Party Castle DEA.

“We are in a situation where some schools have windows painted shut which seriously hinders any efforts to keep staff and students safe. Many schools are having to move to online learning in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus but that aside a major concern is temperatures in schools. The only way classrooms can have good ventilation is to open windows. Open windows in January is obviously going to make things extremely cold and uncomfortable for staff and students meaning there is a desperate need for air infiltration monitors.”

“We are in a situation where air infiltration units have been rolled out in the Republic yet here in the north a significant number of schools are yet to be provided with these. How is that possible? Teachers want to keep schools open, they are acutely aware of the need for students to not miss any more school but they also have to ensure their own safety and that of students. The Executive are not helping them to do this. Two years on and we have still not learned any lessons.”

“Rolling out C02 monitors helps no one, teachers who already have these in their classrooms are simply receiving the information that there is no circulation in the room; the need for air infiltration systems is therefore critical.”

“It is paramount that the Education Minister sets out a clear plan for keeping schools open and which puts the safety of staff and students at its core. It is apparent that the Executive are leaving it to individual schools to manage as best they can, however this is going to leave us with massive differences in provision to students with some schools unable to remain open due to staff shortages and others who will be relatively unaffected.”

“Once again the Executive have abdicated their responsibility, hiding behind risk assessments, putting the responsibility on individual principals and boards, no plan in place and no clear guidance on when or how schools should stay open. Our teachers and students deserve better.”