Five more schools built by Western Building Systems require remedial work, bringing the total number of schools with structural issues to 23, the Department of Education has confirmed.
Investigations on 42 schools were carried out after significant structural problems were uncovered at Ardgillan Community College in Balbriggan, Co Dublin.
While 19 schools have now been cleared to open after the mid-term on Monday, all of the other school buildings will require remedial work to make them safe.
Ardgillan is the worst impacted but three other schools — Tyrrelstown Educate Together, St Luke’s national school in Tyrrelstown, and Gaelscoil Eiscir Riada in Lucan — will only be able to open their ground floors from Monday after internal engineering solutions and external measures are carried out.
It has been deemed unsafe to allow students and staff into the upper floors and the department is working with these schools to find alternative accommodation for the older student years as well as transport to bring them to temporary classrooms.
The remaining 19 schools, including five in Cork, four in Dublin, and four in Meath, need external works.
But last night Education Minister Joe McHugh said the department is confident that these 19 schools will be able to open in full following external precautionary measures in the form of a fence around the building, or part of the building, and protective decking fitted over areas such as doorways.
Mr McHugh said contractors will be on site today to implement precautionary measures at all schools where this is required.
“Right throughout this process, our overriding priority has been the safety of school students and staff.
“This has led us to adopt a very cautious approach and to initiate precautionary interventions where structural issues have been identified during the assessments.
“The next phase of the process will involve more detailed assessment and, where required, permanent remediation works to fully rectify any issues arising,” he said.
Responding, Western Building Systems said that no details of the assessments had been shared with them but that they would be honouring their contracts.
“We have written to the department requesting proper access and time to evaluate the identified schools.
“There were no shortcuts or penny pinching here and those involved know this. While it remains unclear as to why and how we have reached this point, we are not walking away.
“We know how important schools are to pupils, parents, teachers, and the wider community.”