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Staff must be given resources and support needed to make school restart safe, says Lyttle

Teaching and non-teaching staff must be given the resources and support needed to restart schools safely, Alliance Education spokesperson Chris Lyttle MLA has said.

Mr Lyttle was speaking as many pupils in years seven, 12 and 14 had their first day back at school since lockdown, although several schools have remained closed due to positive COVID-19 tests. He said Education Minister Peter Weir still needed to provide clarity in many areas.

“I firstly want to thank the teaching and non-teaching staff at schools across Northern Ireland for their hard work and professionalism, which has made the return for pupils possible,” said Mr Lyttle, Chair of the Assembly Education Committee.

“I have the utmost confidence in their resilience. However, they must be given the resources and support they need by the Education Minister to be able to restart schools safely. The Minister must expedite the allocation of funding for a number of issues, including school cleaning, hygiene materials, additional teaching and non-teaching staff to minimise pupil-staff rations, school adaptations and to create the possibility of remote learning when necessary.

“There must also be urgent clarity around the curriculum specification for this academic year, the need for face coverings and the provision of a helpline for principals and parents to receive detailed guidance when needed.

“We each have a responsibility to comply with the guidance and restrictions when it comes to COVID-19. But we also have a responsibility to help ensure our school staff and pupils are not put at risk during this school restart period.”