Teachers face 'life or death risk' as schools reopen, ASTI warns

Teachers who suffer with illnesses leaving them vulnerable to Covid-19 are facing a "life or death risk" as schools reopen, the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) has warned.

The ASTI said it had received a large volume of queries from teachers suffering with serious illnesses - including cancer, heart conditions and diabetes – who have been refused the option of staying at home.

The ASTI has written to Health Minister Stephen Donnelly for clarifications on high-risk teachers working from home after receiving a surge in queries from worried members.

Ann Piggott, vice-president of the ASTI, said this applied to at least one case in each of Ireland's 723 secondary schools.

Life or death

"We've written to the Minister for Health and we've also sent a copy to the Education Minister [Norma Foley], the interesting thing is that the HSE's advice about high-risk people is that they should work from home if possible and this is very possible, so we would like to finalise this matter."

“This is their health, their life. While they may not be classified currently as very high risk, if they pick up the virus they don’t have a hope. Their lives are totally on the line here,” Ms Piggott told The Irish Times.

Ms Piggott said one teacher battling acute leukaemia, diabetes type 2, asthma, anaemia and an auto-immune disorder had been told to return to work after undergoing a risk assessment.

She added that similar letters continue to arrive from worried teachers.