Fórsa has called for a review of education department guidance to schools on the provision and use of PPE.
Speaking to the Oireachtas education committee yesterday (19th November), the union’s head of education said existing guidance was being used to deny staff access to basic medical grade face masks in a small number of schools.
Andy told TDs and senators that advice on the use of face visors was now inconsistent with public health advice that visors should not be used. He said it was illogical to tell special needs assistants (SNAs) that face masks need only be used when carrying out personal care for students.
“SNAs work side by side with their students throughout the school day with no social distancing. They are constantly at risk not only when assisting a student with hygiene needs,” he said.
The Oireachtas hearing came in the week that Fórsa started to roll out a new service to members by supplying medical grade face masks to SNAs and bus escorts whose schools have not made adequate PPE available. Hundreds of masks have now been dispatched to the minority of schools that refuse to provide PPE.
Andy said the masks were readily available to health and social care staff, and cost around 20 cent each.
He also told the committee that staff at high risk if they contract Covid 19 were also poorly served by unclear PPE advice.
“These staff have been advised by occupational health to continue working in classrooms on the basis that they use medical grade PPE.
But the current advice suggests that masks need only be provided when they are providing personal care to students,” he said.
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