SDLP Education Spokesperson Daniel McCrossan has said schools in the North have been plunged into crisis as a result of Education Minister Michelle McIlveen’s lack of preparation around Covid-19.
Mr McCrossan was speaking after numerous school principals spoke out against the current guidance, calling it unfit for purpose, with many opting to continue to use previous guidance.
The West Tyrone MLA said it was inconceivable that the Department of Education and Minister McIlveen had failed to put proper measures in place ahead of the start of the new term.
Mr McCrossan said pupils, parents and school staff have been repeatedly failed by the Department of Education and successive ministers throughout the pandemic.
The West Tyrone MLA said:
“The pandemic has been going on for a year and a half and the Department of Education and Minister McIlveen appear to have learnt nothing from the experience and the failings of her predecessor Peter Weir. They have trailed their feet from the outset and have not taken the situation seriously enough when it comes to ensuring our children get the education they need.
“I have been inundated by school principals complaining about the current guidance, it’s not fit for purpose and resulted in them and their staff spending countless hours focused on contact tracing and other Covid-related issues instead of education. Many have simply resorted to using the previous guidance, which while not perfect, was much better than what’s currently in place.
“We have consistently warned the Department of Education and the Education Authority about the need to have proper safety measures in place. They had all summer to prepare and yet here we are one week into term with our schools already at breaking point. Coronavirus cases have been on the rise and there was always going to be a spike when schools reopen, yet nothing has been done. This isn’t a situation that has come out of the blue.
“Once again our children, parents and school staff have been failed by the Education Minister and her department. It’s just not good enough”