Tipp parents share their views on reopening of special needs classes

Photo: Tipp FM

The Department of Education will meet unions today to continue talks on the return to school of children with special educational needs.

It’s after the Department abandoned today’s planned reopening, following objections from the INTO and Forsa on safety grounds.

There are differing views among parents of children with special needs about whether or not such schools and classes should reopen at the moment.

Ciara McCormack from Thurles is a mother of five, including two young boys who are on the autism spectrum.

She says she would not be comfortable sending her children back to school in the current Covid-19 environment.

“We had a call from the school to see what was the plan and I had to tell our principal that there was no way my kids were going back because it’s just not safe.”

“They keep insisting schools are safe places but the World Health Organisation came out in August and said schools were safe once cases were low and community transmission was under control.”

“That’s not the case at the moment – we’ve new strains, we’ve high figures and we’ve a high death toll.”

Mark Darmody’s two sons Neil and John are autistic, and attend Scoil Chormaic Special Needs School in Cashel.

He believes teachers are “angry” with the Government about how things have been handled this month, and is worried that the current closures will be difficult to overcome.

He says his children have regressed significantly with the schools closed.

“We’d be one of the parents who would be hoping that schools could open in some way. I don’t even call it a school – I call it a service because to actually call them teachers and SNA’s is actually an insult. They’re like speech and language therapists, they’re OT’s, they’re like mini physio’s – they do everything for our kids.”

“Our kids can’t learn in the normal way. They can’t do the Zoom or the home schooling or the remote learning at all.”