A teachers' trade union executive says that Leaving Cert students should return to school in Febuary.
The Teachers Union of Ireland says it believes the Leaving Certs should return after the mid-term break during the same week as secondary students in need of special education are due to go back.
"Our Executive Committee has expressed its strong position that subject to the advice of the public health authorities, Leaving Certificate students should also return to schools during the week beginning 22nd February.
"We will continue to engage on the sustainable re-opening of schools and all other related matters," said a statement.
The TUI made the committent in a statment in which it announced that it has decided that its members will facilitate the re-opening of special classes in Post-Primary schools from Monday, 22nd February.
The TUI acknowledged the vital importance of face-to-face provision for these students.
TUI President Martin Marjoram outlined the union's position.
"While emergency remote teaching and learning continues, the TUI has engaged intensively and positively with all education stakeholders to work towards the safe re-opening of schools for priority groups in line with public health advice and as early as is possible.
"In this regard, the Union’s Executive Committee this evening, (Wednesday, January 10), decided that its members would facilitate the re-opening of special classes in Post-Primary schools from Monday, 22nd February given that a number of concerns expressed by the Union have been addressed.
"In taking this decision, the Union acknowledges the vital importance of face-to-face provision for this cohort of students and took note of the range of additional supports and measures that have been agreed to protect students and staff.
"These measures, which had been sought by TUI, include full contact tracing and fast-track testing, provision of high grade PPE for special education teachers and arrangements for staff in high risk health categories and pregnant teachers to continue to provide remote learning.
"Clearly, all risk mitigation measures and safeguards will need to be strictly adhered to at school level. At national level, all measures must be kept under ongoing review, not least to take account of the emerging new variants of COVID-19. The health and safety of students, staff and their families cannot be compromised.
"Communities must also work to protect schools and ongoing vigilance is required. In this context, any member of the school community - staff or student - who has symptoms of COVID-19 or is a close contact of a confirmed case must stay at home.
"Vital to maintaining the confidence of the school community will be further suppression of the virus in society," she said.
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