The Education Minister must deliver robust safety measures for schools, Alliance Upper Bann representative Eóin Tennyson has said.
Mr Tennyson said while his party supported an Assembly recall petition to bring the Minister to the chamber, many pupils had already returned without appropriate actions being taken or plans outlined by the Department of Education.
The Alliance Councillor added he wanted to see all pupils in schools provided it was safe, given the levels of the Omicron variant being experienced throughout Northern Ireland.
“The priority is school-based learning for all our children and young people. We need long-overdue action from the Minister on matters such as ventilation and air filtration devices to ensure this return is both safe and sustainable,” he said.
“The Education Minister was asked at the Education Committee on December 17 what action she is taking to enhance ventilation in schools, as we know that has a major role to play in the fight against an airborne virus such as COVID. Indeed, ventilation measures for schools were requested by my colleague Naomi Long in a letter to the Department as far back as Summer 2020.
“Urgent action is also needed from the Minister to address the staff shortage crisis to cover the high level of staff absences being experienced across schools in NI. We also need clearer guidance from the Department on whether large gatherings such as open days can proceed and what support there is if remote learning becomes a necessity.
“We have seen the disruption caused on education by this pandemic. It is vital the Education Minister acts to ensure adequate protections and plans are in place to mitigate further impact.”