'Schools have to reopen today to deal with this' - Teachers angry sanitisers weren't checked

'Schools have to reopen today to deal with this' - Teachers angry sanitisers weren't checked

Genreal Secretary of the Teachers Union of Ireland, Michael Gillespie, said that principals had to go into schools to quantify how badly they have been affected by the recall of sanitation products. Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Teachers Union of Ireland general secretary Michael Gillespie has said that his members are angry about why checks were not carried out previously on sanitising products to be used in schools.

Speaking on Morning Ireland this morning, Mr Gillespie asked why the certification of products wasn't checked.

He said: "The withdrawal of 52 products on Thursday was the third incident where the education system had been overwhelmed.

"This will mean school principals, teachers and staff will have to go into schools over the weekend to remove the withdrawn items."

Mr Gillespie said that this was all at a time when staff were supposed to be off taking a well-deserved break.

He said that his members want to keep schools open, but they can't do that if the supports aren't there. 

“They have to be resourced - there are going to be challenges, schools have to reopen today to deal with all this. Our members are angry.

"Principals are going into schools today to quantify and see how badly they are affected," he added.

Q&A:What's the problem with hand sanitisers, wipes and soaps in schools?

Mr Gillespie welcomed the fact that schools have been given approval to purchase the necessary products locally.

"I do believe they will open on Monday, that's what they want to do - they want to open, safely, but they need to be fully supported, which they haven’t been over the years. 

We're starting from a position where we have the biggest classes in Europe - physical space and smaller classes are things that are needed, they are being delivered in other countries to prevent Covid coming into schools. 

On the same programme, the Sinn Féin education spokesperson Donnacha O Laoghaire expressed his dismay and frustration at the withdrawal of santitising products. 

He said:" “It's not good enough, this came out of a department review of all products which we called for last week.” 

Mr O Laoghaire said that products being used in schools were supposed to be tested and evaluated. He asked how it was that something that was potentially harmful - that caused dermatitis, respiratory issues - "ended up falling through the system and other products not certified ended up falling through cracks."

He said that it was "not good enough that schools were recommended to use these products when their full safety wasn’t confirmed.

“The minister hasn't been front and centre with this, she should have been a lot more forthcoming," he added.

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