Reopening English Language Schools rushed and reckless – Rose Conway-Walsh TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Further and Higher Education, Rose Conway-Walsh TD, has called on Minister Harris to provide greater clarity on the safety measures and public health advice that will allow for the reopening of in-person English Language schools on July 19th.
Teachta Conway-Walsh said:
“I am very concerned that this decision has been rushed. All further and higher education is remaining mostly online until September when the target is to have most adults vaccinated. Yet, at short notice, it has been announced that in-person classes can begin for English language courses for the 10,000 student in the state.
“Students and staff in these schools are still mostly unvaccinated and are very concerned about the safety of the planned return. The safety of students and staff needs to be prioritised.
“This is a very fragile moment in the reopening of our society. In the same week as the government is passing legislation to preclude unvaccinated people from indoor dining they are telling staff and students that they have to return to in-person class.
“The situation is even worse for Stamp Two students who will effectively be forced to return to in-person classes due to their visa requirements. If they refuse to attend they could lose their visa and be deported.
“Many of these students work in nursing homes and as carers. Regardless of their job or personal health condition they are being given no choice but to return to in-person classes.
“The Minister has stated to me that the in-person classes will only be for the cohort of students in Ireland currently and will not allow schools to begin international recruitment of students. But, with no clear means of enforcing the rules and EU travel about to return we have serious concerns.
“The Minister needs to come out and clarify what public health advice this decision is based on, what safety measures are in place in these school and how he will ensure that we will not see international recruitment of students until public health advices allows it."