Irish Daily Mail
ASTI: Don’t put our pregnant teachers at risk
A TEACHERS’ union has called on the Department of Education to reconsider asking unvaccinated pregnant teachers to return to classrooms in September.
When schools reopened in March 2021, pregnant teachers and special needs assistants were considered ‘high risk’ and were allowed to work remotely for the rest of the term.
Education Minister Norma Foley recently advised that after 14 weeks’ gestation, a pregnant teacher or SNA with no underlying medical condition and who does not yet have ‘significant vaccine protection’ will be categorised as ‘high risk’. However, these women must attend the workplace if they are deemed medically fit to do so following a risk assessment.
Women who have not been fully inoculated and have an underlying medical condition will be categorised as either high risk or very high risk by occupational health services. However, only employees who fall into the ‘very high risk’ category will be allowed to work remotely. All other women must attend the workplace. The Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland has now called on the Department of Education to reconsider its advice on pregnant employees. Kieran Christie, ASTI general secretary, told the Irish Daily Mail that the Delta variant of Covid19 continues to pose a threat to unvaccinated expectant mothers. ‘The ASTI has raised our strong concerns that pregnant teachers who have not got significant vaccine protection are being required to attend the workplace,’ he said.
‘We have asked the department to reconsider this matter.’
A spokesperson for the Irish National Teachers Organisation said that it had also expressed concerns about unvaccinated staff returning to school.
It said that it expects a new circular on Covid-19 leave to be issued to teachers ‘soon’.
A spokesperson for the Department of Education said that ‘as with all of the guidelines disseminated throughout the pandemic’, it has been ‘led by the expert medical advice provided by the Government through the HSE and other relevant public bodies’.
‘We’ve raised strong concerns’