Inclusion Ireland is to appear at the Covid-19 Committee in Leinster House tomorrow to give evidence on the re-opening of schools. We conducted a survey of parents of children returning to school to inform our submission and would like ot thank the 267 people who responded.

More than 50% of parents have noticed a marked regression in their child’s personal and educational skills since they have been off school. Our previous work noted how difficult it was for parents to juggle work, minding other children, care roles and home education.

Teachers are being asked to stay away from school where they display symptoms of Covid-19. This will place significant pressure on the substitute teacher panels. In these circumstances a school may use their special education teaching staff to fill gaps. We are calling on the Department of Education and Skills to further resource the substitute panel to ensure special education teachers are not used in this manner. Special education teachers must be available to provide vital supports for children with disabilities who have missed almost 6 months of schooling and experienced skills regression.

Parents are telling us that they are worried about the re-opening of schools. This is mainly due to fears around Covid-19 and the vagueness of Department of Education and Skills guidelines to schools.

There is a small cohort of children with complex medical needs or where a parent has complex medical needs. These children will not be going back to school and the Department of Education and Skills guidelines in this area are not robust enough. We are calling for adequate support for this small cohort of children with disabilities and complex medical conditions that includes access to the Home Tuition Scheme by in person or virtual means.

Inclusion Ireland’s Opening Statement to the Committee may be read here

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