The TUI said “serious consideration” should be given to closing schools on Friday, December 18th rather than Tuesday, December 22nd.
The organisation said this move would demonstrate the Department of Education’s commitment to protecting the “wellbeing” of teachers, school staff and students.
The TUI, which represents 19,000 post-primary and further education teachers, said this “once-off” measure allow students and teachers to restrict movements ahead of meeting elderly or vulnerable relatives at Christmas, should the easing of restrictions allow for this.
There is much well-intentioned theorising about the concept of wellbeing in schools, but this would be a real, tangible action that could benefit all in the school community.
TUI general secretary Michael Gillespie said: “Recent months have been unprecedentedly difficult and draining for school communities, with a million students returning to recalibrated classrooms that were barely recognisable as those they vacated the previous March.
“Thanks to the remarkable work of staff, schools have remained open throughout all levels of restrictions, including Level 5. However, stress and anxiety levels remain extremely high as a result of a range of worries and concerns that were not imaginable this time last year.”
Foley: no plan to extend Christmas holidays
“There is much well-intentioned theorising about the concept of wellbeing in schools, but this would be a real, tangible action that could benefit all in the school community. It could also prove to be a ‘stitch in time’ measure that helps prevent longer absences due to burnout and exhaustion later in the school year.”
Minister for Education Norma Foley has said there will be no extension to the school Christmas holidays.
The Minister also face questions regarding the level of secrecy when a case of the virus is confirmed within a school.
Ms Foley rejected the suggestions of secrecy saying issues surrounding cases and contact training were left for trained public health professionals and that school principals should not be faced with making public health decisions.