Reopening schools for children with additional needs

A chara, – The article 'Special needs schools: Families 'deeply upset' at reopening stand-off'" (News, January 16th) describes the very understandable distress felt by families of children with additional needs due to the uncertainty on re-opening schools for these children. However, as a teacher, I must challenge the statement that responsibility for this uncertainty lies with all stakeholders.

The uncertainty regarding school reopening has occurred because the Minister of Education released a statement announcing a date for school reopening with only one week’s notice, with no detail on how this would work, and before addressing the concerns of the workers who would have to make this very complex operation happen. A document with further “detail” was issued at 7.40pm last Friday, leaving three working days before the proposed reopening. This document contained no real guidance with regard to children with additional needs in mainstream classes, stating that more detail would be issued “next week”. Schools are therefore left wondering will they receive this detail two working days before schools reopen, the day before, or the day of? Principals, teachers and special needs assistants care deeply about ensuring continuity of education for our pupils, particularly those who have additional needs, but we are in the astonishing position where we are first hearing about the Department of Education’s intentions via the Twitter feeds of private advocacy groups. This is undermining for school staff and confusing and upsetting for children’s families. Parents, school staff and advocacy groups need to stand together to hold the Department of Education to account for its utter failure in managing this situation. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 8.