NIPSA, along with colleagues from the other education unions, met with Department of Education and Education Authority officials, on 31 December to receive an update on school restart plans.

It was extremely frustrating to be advised that no new plans existed and the strategy of following the failed plans, which are not addressing the massive problems within schools, will continue.

We were also advised that effective immediately:

  • Fully vaccinated close contacts do not have to isolate and should undertake daily Lateral Flow Device tests and only remain off work if they have a positive test / have symptoms.
  • The NI Executive has also announced a change to the rules on self-isolation for positive cases, reducing the period from 10 days to seven, providing the individual has negative LFD results on both days 6 and 7 with tests taken 24 hours apart.

The approach by the Department of Education is completely unacceptable. There has been a failure to put in place effective measures to mitigate against the spread of Covid 19 in schools. Carbon Dioxide monitors are still being distributed to schools but in insufficient numbers to ensure all classrooms and communal areas are being monitored. This is an abject failure to plan.

NIPSA and colleagues from the other education unions will be discussing how we can continue to put pressure on the Department of Education to ensure that their current strategy changes to reflect the urgency of the problem.

Alan Law
Assistant Secretary (Acting)