Two schools at centre of structural concerns will not reopen today
Most schools set to reopen after engineering teams worked through the weekend to complete remedial works
Scaffolding at Tyrrelstown Educate Together school in Dublin, which was closed due to concerns over ‘significant structural issues’. File photograph: Cate McCurry/PA
Most schools that have been at the centre of structural concerns over recent weeks are set to either open or partially reopen following the mid-term break on Monday.
A further 40 schools where there were structural concerns are set to open following safety checks.
A total of 22 schools have had fences and protective decking around school buildings as a precautionary measure.
Three of the schools will open at ground floor level only following the implementation of internal engineering solutions and external precautionary measures.
In all, five teams involving more than 250 workers have been working through the weekend to facilitate the reopening of schools.
The fact so many schools are set to reopen in some form represents significant progress on the part of the Department of Education in tackling a controversy which erupted just a fortnight ago.
The department said work was due to be fully completed on schools by about 10pm on Sunday evening.
Tyrrelstown Educate Together national school and St Luke’s national school have decided not to open on Monday to allow them to fully explain measures that are in place at the schools, such as logistics for accommodating children at other sites and traffic management plans devised by gardaí.
Officials are also due to be at both schools, along with Gaelscoil Eiscir Riada, to answer concerns of staff or parents on Monday.
Only one school building at Ardgillan Community College will remain fully closed, though the school says it will be able to accommodate all the children affected.
A department spokesman said the operation over the weekend was a “huge logistical exercise”.
“The efforts and dedication of those involved should be recognised, as well as the community spirit that was in evidence in a number of locations around the country when schools needed support and contractors sought supplies over the weekend,” a spokesman said.
He added that school principals were being kept fully informed of progress and will receive written confirmation as the works are completed.
Arrangements at individual school level are being communicated by the school authorities directly to parents.
The 19 schools that required 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.
Safety reviews of the schools were ordered after issues were discovered at Ardgillan Community College in Balbriggan more than a week ago.
All schools were built by Northern Ireland building firm Western Building Systems.
The department has insisted that the contractor and its design team were “fully responsible for the construction and certification of the buildings” in accordance with the regulations at the time. It has said the role of department representatives during periodic site visits was as “client liaison”. Minister for Education Joe McHugh has also pledged to recoup whatever money is needed for remedial works from the developer.
The developer insists, however, that it has a track record of building to the highest construction standards.