23 Jan 2022

Petition demanding resignation of Education Minister reaches over 7000 signatures

Petition demanding resignation of Education Minister reaches over 7000 signatures

Petition demanding resignation of Education Minister reaches over 7000 signatures

A petition demanding the resignation of Education Minister Norma Foley has reached over 7,000 signatures. 

It was created following ongoing criticism of the minister due to concerns about safety measures in schools, such as the provision of adequate ventilation. 

The petition has almost achieved its goal of 7,500 signatures, with 7,012 people signing in just two weeks. 

One of the issues highlighted in the petition's description is the scrapping of school contact tracing, as well as the use of allegedly incorrect data on positive Covid cases in schools. 

In a meeting on January 4 between the minister and public health and education representatives, it was decided there was no public health rationale to delay reopenings, and schools reopened on January 6 as planned. 

It was also confirmed that advice had been given to schools on appropriate ventilation. 

Since the reopenings, thousands of teacher absences have been reported and teachers' unions have repeatedly called for increased protective measures for staff and students. 

Some of their concerns include the lack of freely available medical grade masks and the lack of HEPA air filters in many classrooms. 

Opposition TD, Aodhán Ó'Ríordáin, also expressed his dissatisfaction with the minister. 

He commented on social media today (January 8) after receiving a picture of a thermostat from a Dublin classroom reporting a temperature of 7.5 degrees celsius.  

He said, "A proactive and caring Education Department/ Minister would have assembled a task force of officials spanning expertise in health, education and housing a year ago. Such a group would proactively engage with every school to provide advice, funding and resources to meet their needs.

"The reality is that if a principal got a call from the Department asking how they were getting on, they would most likely faint with shock. We don’t have a proactive and caring Education Department/ Minister. It seems enough for them to have opened schools. Simply not good enough." 

The importance of ventilation was highlighted in a Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) report released this week, which recommended adequate ventilation of indoor spaces through natural means such as by opening windows, or by mechanical means such as central air-conditioning. 

However, parents and teachers alike have raised the issue of children sitting in cold classrooms due to windows being kept open throughout the school day. 

Minister Foley came under fire online this week for comments she made during a Radio Kerry segment. 

She said, "There's very clear guidance given to schools in terms of the opening and closing of windows and when that should be done, so for example it is recommended that windows would be open before class, windows would be open at the end of class, so I think perhaps there is a misconception that windows have to be open 24/7." 

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