ASTI to ballot on industrial action over concerns since schools reopened

ASTI to ballot on industrial action over concerns since schools reopened

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The Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) is to ballot its members in relation to “a number of key issues which have emerged” since schools reopened.

Schools have reopened in recent weeks following their closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

A meeting of the union’s Central Executive Committee heard today that “ASTI members have serious concerns about the health and safety of school communities”.

The issues raised include:

  • Physical distancing in schools.
  • Provision of PPE.
  • The definition of close contacts.
  • Comprehensive testing and testing turnaround times.
  • Provisions for high-risk teachers.
  • IT resources for students and teachers to facilitate remote teaching/learning.

ASTI President Ann Piggott said: “The fact that high-risk teachers have been asked to work in crowded classroom is unacceptable to us as a trade union.

“The safety of students and their teachers must be the priority.” 

She added that: “It is unthinkable that at a time when teachers have demonstrated tremendous commitment to their students and to keeping education going, that schools would introduce work changes which have a further negative impact on teachers’ working lives.

“This smacks of crisis opportunism and cannot go unchallenged.” 

The union said in a statement that the ballot will also cover “the difficulties faced by returning teachers who are being forced to work precarious contacts and those enduring unequal pay”.

Earlier this week, public health experts ruled out a Covid-19 outbreak in a Cork town after a fourth case of the virus was confirmed in a third school in the town.

It comes as a school in Kildare was advised to close after a cluster of cases were confirmed at Scoil na Mainistreach, in Celbridge.

However, in Ballincollig, west of Cork City, a fourth school case of the virus was confirmed last night - this time in Scoil Mhuire NS.

It comes just days after two cases of the virus were confirmed in Coláiste Choilm secondary school, and another case was confirmed in nearby Gaelscoil Uí Riordáin primary school.

In the first three cases earlier this week, a public health risk assessment was undertaken and no children in either school were identified as a close contact of the confirmed cases.

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