Total of 22 schools found to need remedial work
Department of Education finds 19 of 42 inspected schools fit to reopen without work
One school building, part of Ardgillan Community College in Balbriggan, Dublin, is closed. Photograph: Garrett White/Collins
A total of 22 schools built by Western Building Systems (WBS) have been identified as being in need of some level of remedial works before being able to reopen on Monday.
Following a final round of inspections published on Thursday, the Department of Education found 19 of 42 affected school buildings were fit to reopen after the midterm break without any works.
A further 19 will be able to open after “external precautionary measures” are put in place, comprising a fence around all or part of the building, as well as protective decking.
Three schools can open initially on the ground floor only, following internal engineering works as well as external precautionary measures.
One school building, part of Ardgillan Community College in Balbriggan, Dublin, is closed. However, all schools are expected to be in a position to reopen on Monday, although that final decision will rest with the schools themselves.
The department said that, by Friday, contractors will have begun to implement precautionary measures where they are required.
“The target is to have these interventions completed in time to facilitate schools reopening after the midterm break,” it said. “Arrangements are in place to ensure that school principals concerned are kept fully informed of progress on a daily basis.”
The 19 schools that require external precautionary measures are Scoil Chaitlín Maude in Tallaght, Dublin; Castlemills Education Centre in Balbriggan, Dublin; Lucan East Educate Together NS; St Paul’s National School in Ratoath, Co Meath; Scoil Phádraig Naofa in Athy, Co Kildare; Athy Model School, Co Kildare; Gaelscoil Átha Í in Co Kildare; Convent NS in Portarlington, Co Laois; Gaelscoil Phortlaoise, Co Laois; and Scoil Phádraig Naofa, Rochestown, Co Cork.
Also in that category are Portlaoise Educate Together NS, Co Laois; Coláiste De Lacy, Ashbourne, Co Meath; Gaelscoil na Mí, Ashbourne, Co Meath; Ashbourne Educate Together NS, Co Meath; Griffeen Valley Educate Together NS in Dublin; Gaelscoil Mhichíl Uí Coileáin, Clonakilty, Co Cork; Cara Junior (Special) School, Co Cork; Carrigaline Educate Together NW, Co Cork; St Colman’s Boys NS, Macroom, Co Cork.
The department’s statement said that in cases where precautionary external or internal interventions were being implemented, it was with the purpose of ensuring safe occupation of the building and to minimise disruption to classes.
Safety reviews of the schools were ordered after issues were first discovered at Ardgillan Community College in Balbriggan over a week ago.
In response to the final round of these initial inspections, WBS issued a statement saying no details were shared with it and that it was unaware as to the methodology used by engineers to examine their work.
However, it said that in each of the 42 cases the schools were certified for completion as being free from any defects and suitable for use.
“Hard work, innovation and high standards have underpinned our business for 35 years,” it said.
“The department itself awarded us contracts to build 42 schools over a 14-year period based on continuous quality of delivery.”
The company said no “short cuts or penny-pinching” were applied to their work in the schools involved and that “while it remains unclear as to why and how we have reached this point, we are not walking away”.
It said it would honour its contracts as usual and recognised its responsibility to clients.