School safety checks for Covid-19 compliance to be carried out

Safety checks will be carried out in schools to determine if the are complying with Covid-19 guidelines, but the reports may not be made available to teachers and parents.

As reported in The Irish Times, The Department of Education’s inspectorate and the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) have agreed a plan to monitor schools’ compliance, with the results being shared with the school principal on the day of the inspection.

The results will also be made available to the school's board, but there is no guarantee parents or teachers will see the findings.

The inspections are taking place on a trial basis, during which school boards may decide to make the information available to their wider school community.

A spokesperson from the Department of Education said: “These visits will facilitate professional dialogue between the school principal and an inspector on issues surrounding the school’s plans and the measures taken to ensure its safe and sustainable reopening.

“Inspectors will monitor compliance with the department’s Covid-19 response plans for schools and will provide feedback that can be used to assist schools to identify strengths in their response plans and to highlight any aspects that may require further development.”

During the trial inspection period, the inspectorate will test draft arrangements for the visits, getting feedback from principals and worker representatives, before discussing the outcome of the visits with the Department and the HSA in order to improve the approach added the spokesman.

Since the return of schools, concerns have already been raised by teachers' unions saying social distancing cannot be maintained in some schools.

Previously, unions have said they will not allow their members to teach in classes where there is clear evidence to show that schools are breaching Covid-19 safety guidelines.