Aontú Leader & Meath West TD Peadar Tóibín has called for the Government to enhance Covid-19 measures in Special Education Schools to facilitate these schools returning for the students who need them. He said that a survey of childcare professionals revealed that 74% of them saw regression in children with special needs during the lockdowns.

After meeting with teachers and parents an Teachta Tóibín said:

“One of the most difficult aspects of the Covid-19 lockdowns has been the impact upon children with disabilities and additional needs. These families are in crisis. Everything needs to be done to allow Special Education schools to return. Otherwise, children with disabilities and additional needs will pay a heavy price. There are a series of practical measures that can be put in place to facilitate this return”.

“First of all, make staff, students and parents priorities for testing and vaccination. In addition to priority testing, contact tracing measures must be implemented and extensive testing of staff, adults and children where there is a Covid case in the classroom. If we can serial-test meat factories we can serial-test education professionals”.

“Furthermore, empower management to inform and communicate with staff and parents where there are cases. Finally, ensure a proper supply of PPE for these schools. The 40% grant is not good enough. This means N95 standard masks. Whatever is needed, ensure they have it. Also where teachers are in a position to return to the classroom this should be facilitated now.”

“A survey of childcare professionals revealed that 74% of providers have confessed to seeing regression in children with special needs and disabilities. The story is much the same in our schools, as children with special needs and disabilities have been plagued by anxiety and have been too fearful to go to school.”

“My own party colleague Joanne Murphy, a mother with a child with additional needs stated that she was forced to lie to her son about schools not reopening to protect him from heartbreak. Online learning doesn’t fulfil his social needs and structure. Now is the time for practical measures and full government supports to get these schools back open for our children.”