By Tony Winterburn •
Published: 24 Aug 2020 • 11:01
Pupils were going back to school today in Northern Ireland although many parents voiced their concerns for the safety of their children.
AS schools begin to reopen across Northern Ireland, the Children’s Commissioner, Koulla Yiasouma, has called for more clarity over the circumstances in which they will have to shut should there be any Covid-19 outbreaks.
The commissioner has also called for an assurance that the education of children will continue remotely if any schools do have to close in the event that staff and children are diagnosed with Covid-19. As schools began to accept students it was revealed that there will be no singing, no indoor PE, and no parents will be allowed past the school gate – apparently, all measures aimed at reducing the spread of the contagion.
Teaching unions reaffirmed their fears that reopening schools will lead to a fresh wave of infections by this coming Halloween. Some schools in Northern Ireland are taking extremely cautious measures to counter any rise in Covid-19 infections. One grammar school, in particular, the Belfast Royal Academy (BRA), has even imposed a compulsory policy of face masks for pupils and staff from Monday.
But the NASUWT, (Teachers Union), said they were “extremely worried” that Covid-19 would spread rapidly through the region’s schools and spark a new wave of infections by the end of October. Justin McCamphill, the NASUWT national official for Northern Ireland, said Stormont’s strategy for getting schools reopened was published in June when there were 64 cases of Covid-19.
“Two weeks ago (August 10-16) 241 cases were reported. We are on the wrong trajectory to be abandoning social distancing now. Rushing to reopen schools fully without social distancing and without ensuring that all mitigating measures are in place is not in the interest of pupils, parents, school staff or the wider community … It will lead to a fresh wave by Halloween,” he said.
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