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92% of post-primary teachers say wearing masks makes work more difficult - TUI survey

The survey, carried out amid a recent surge in Covid-19 cases, highlights concern among the profession.

Image: Shutterstock/Lincoln Beddoe

SECONDARY AND FURTHER education teachers have reported a range of concerns in relation to teaching during the Covid-19 pandemic.

A survey of over 1,500 members from the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI), which covers post-primary and further/adult education sectors, asked teachers about a range of issues about the Covid-19 measures.

Key findings include:

  • 84% of teachers who took part in the Calculated Grades process found their role to be very stressful (39%) or stressful (45%).
  • 23% of respondents say they have an underlying health issue that is of concern while 31% share a household with somebody who has an underlying health issue. 11% share a household with somebody over 70 years of age
  • 71% do not believe that the enhanced teaching/staffing allocation provided as a result of Covid-19 has been sufficient to meet requirements
  • 33% of teachers do not believe that broadband of sufficient quality is available in their school’s community to support remote learning
  • 96% think that accelerated/rapid Covid-19 testing for students, teachers and other staff is essential to limit disruption over the coming months.

The survey of 1,551 teachers was carried out between 25 September and 5 October.

Other findings

92% of teachers believe that wearing a face covering during class makes their work significantly more difficult (55%) or more difficult (37%).
49.81% believe that their workplace has been provided with the requisite resources to ensure a satisfactory cleaning regime, with 50.19% believing that it has not been provided with the requisite resources.

30% of respondents have considered leaving the profession or retiring early as a result of Covid-19.

From a list, teachers chose ‘more physical space’, ‘smaller class groups’ and ‘more teachers’ in that order as what they would most like to counter the workplace Covid-19 risk

TUI president Martin Marjoram said that the findings “highlight the significant concerns of teachers” around their health and the health of those in their household.

Of particular concern is the uncertainty around the definition of close contacts in schools. A lack of consistency and clarity in this regard is causing severe stress and anxiety.

“The situation must be urgently reviewed so that school staff have trust in the system and understand the decision-making process.”

He said that provision has been made for teachers who are at ‘very high risk’ to work remotely, but those who are at ‘high risk’ if they contract Covid-19 are still in schools.

Conditions in the ‘high risk’ category include heart disease or immune system issues. 

The Union is insisting on ongoing engagement around the move to Level 5 restrictions and continual assessment of the potential health risk to school staff and students.

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TUI is also calling for a national audit of safeguards in schools, a review of some health risk assessments and also the provision of resources to tackle the digital divide that discriminates against students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

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