SNAs require clarity from Minister for Education – Ó Laoghaire

6 April 2020
By Bryan Smyth

Deputy O’Laoighre

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has this afternoon asked that the Minister for Education provide clarity to SNAs given the current confusion in the sector regarding to redeploy SNAs.

Teachta Ó Laoghaire said;

“Earlier today I contacted Minister Joe McHugh seeking clarity for SNAs regarding talk their redeployment. There are significant issues in communication which is leading to frustration, and worry among SNAs, much of which can be addressed with answers to their concerns, and clear communication from the Minister and the Department.”

“There is still confusion regarding the exact roles and responsibilities they will be asked to take on. SNAs need to be confident in how their welfare will be ensured in any such redeployment, to understand how social distancing can be applied where possible and that they will not be expected to undertake tasks which they are not qualified to perform. ”

“Forsa Trade Union has communicated to SNAs that they will only be expected to perform tasks that can be done remotely, but the Minister has yet to confirm this and circular 27/2020 which was issued last week is not clear on this. ”

“Much of this confusion arises from a template form for Garda vetting which SNAs received in advance of their redeployment, which described them as ‘Healthcare Assistants’. This, of course, caused a significant concern that they might be directly redeployed to frontline healthcare work. I understand a new form has or is being circulated, however this was surely avoidable.”

“There is also a need for clarity regarding whether SNAs who have loved ones at home who are vulnerable can withdraw from the process, how the issue of childcare will be covered or dealt with, and whether SNAs will be working with adults or solely with children.”

“There is also a need for clarity regarding the children SNAs are providing remote learning for currently, and how these two considerations will be balanced.”

“I know SNAs are more than willing to play their part in the fight against COVID, and help out where they can, but they can’t simply be considered as labour commodity that can be applied to any job at all, it needs to be appropriate to their training and skills, and they require clear communication to do so.”

“I hope that Minister McHugh can address their concerns as a matter of urgency.”

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