Saturday, September 19, 2020

The ASTI is concerned about physical distancing and provision of personal protective equipment in schools. Photo: Jane Barlow/PA

The main trade union for secondary school teachers has said it will ballot for industrial action over concerns about staff safety.

The central executive committee of the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland (ASTI) said it met on Saturday and decided to ballot its members in relation to a number of “key issues” which had emerged since schools reopened.

The issues include physical distancing in schools, provision of personal protective equipment, the definition of close contacts, testing and testing turnaround times, provisions for high-risk teachers, and information technology resources for students and teachers to facilitate remote teaching and learning.

“The fact that high risk teachers have been asked to work in crowded classroom is unacceptable to us as a trade union,” ASTI president Ann Piggott said in a statement.

“The safety of students and their teachers must be the priority.”

The union has yet to decide whether it will ballot members for strike action. A spokeswoman told The Irish Times that nothing had been ruled in or out at this stage.

Second level schools reopened at the start of September after being closed since mid-March as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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