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Education Minister must deliver robust safety measures for schools, says Lyttle, as he confirms Alliance support for recall petition

The Education Minister must deliver robust safety measures for schools, Alliance Education spokesperson Chris Lyttle MLA has said.

Mr Lyttle said while his party supported an Assembly recall petition to bring the Minister to the chamber, many pupils had already returned without appropriate actions being taken or plans outlined by the Department of Education. The Chair of the Assembly’s Education Committee added he wanted to see all pupils in schools but provided it was safe, given the levels of the Omicron variant being experienced throughout Northern Ireland. 

“The priority is school-based learning for all our children and young people but that must be in a safe manner,” he said.

“The Education Minister was asked at the Education Committee on December 17 what action she is taking to enhance ventilation in schools, as we know that has a major role to play in the fight against an airborne virus such as COVID.  

“Urgent action is also needed from the Minister to address the staff shortage crisis to cover the high level of staff absences being experienced across schools in NI. We also need clearer guidance from the Department on whether large gatherings such as open days can proceed and what support there is if remote learning becomes a necessity. 

“Education is experiencing a number of crises, including funding of the childcare sector, about which I have written to the Education Minister and First and Deputy First Ministers, and which my colleague Naomi Long has also raised at Executive 

“We have seen the disruption caused on education by this pandemic. It is vital the Education Minister acts to ensure adequate protections and plans are in place to mitigate further impact.”