Support needed to keep schools open, says MLA

Coronavirus: morning update
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Sinn Féin MLA John O'Dowd has expressed concern over a lack of support for principals who are trying to keep local schools open.

It comes as the Covid-19 infection continues to rise across society. 

The Upper Bann representative said, "Parents, pupils and teachers know the best place for children to learn is in the classroom, we cannot return to home tutoring.

"School leaders are urgently seeking an intervention by the Education Minister and her Department to support them in keeping schools open and pupils in the classroom. 

"Sinn Féin have called on the Minster to directly put in place the necessary resources and personnel to support our school communities at this time including; urgent consideration being given to allowing principals to employ contact tracers and this should be funded by the Department.  

"Difficulties with accessing support via the PHA and EA COVID-19 specific help lines have also been raised by schools and parents. It has become apparent that these helplines require greater levels of resourcing to assist with the volume of queries coming from our school leaders.  
 
"Pupils who are identified as close contacts need easy access to PCR testing to allow them to quickly ascertain as to whether they can return to school or not causing less disruption to their education."

Concluding Mr O’Dowd said, "It is essential that our schools remain open, children and young people should not pay the price of the continued spread of Covid-19 in society. We all have our part to play including getting vaccinated, social distancing and wearing a face covering."

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