Teachers Union of Ireland calls for extension to Christmas holidays

The Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) has said that serious consideration should be given to closing schools for the Christmas break on the afternoon of Friday 18th December rather than on Tuesday 22nd December.

The TUI say that this could allow families to gather more safety over the festive period.

It would also 'protect the wellbeing of all in the school community.'

TUI general secretary Michael Gillespie said stress and anxiety levels remained extremely high as a result of a range of worries and concerns over the pandemic.

This has been an extraordinarily intensive working period, and staff and students are far more fatigued than they would be during a normal school year.

''In this regard, the short extension of the Christmas closure period that we are advocating would be a significant and much needed boost to the morale of all concerned, he said.

Closing schools on the afternoon of Friday, 18th December would also potentially allow students and teachers together, a significant proportion of the population to restrict their movements for a longer period before meeting vulnerable relatives grandparents, particularly at Christmas, should public health advice at the time permit such gatherings.

However, when questioned at an Oireachtas education committee yesterday, Minsiter for Education Norma Foley said there was 'no intention' of putting those plans in place.

Ms Foley said she was aware children had lost tuition time due to Covid-19 closures earlier this year.

It is not our intention at this stage at all to extend the Christmas break,she said.

I am aware of the importance of children being in school. That is why we have worked hard - even in Level 5 - to keep schools open.

"I'm conscious of the public health advice which is telling us that students are much better served when they are in school," she said.