Parents of children at Rosedale Special School have raised concerns that their children will suffer developmental and behavioural regression with schools closed until at least the end of January.
The situation has led to the Sinn Féin Galway West TD, Mairéad Farrell, writing to the Minister for Education, Norma Foley, and the Minister for Special Education, Josepha Madigan, requesting "an urgent meeting" between them and the Rosedale Parents’ Association. "Parents have described the school as their lifeline," said the TD.
Rosedale School, based in Renmore, provides educational services to those aged between six and 18 with severe and profound learning disabilities.
According to Dep Farrell, parents have "detailed to me the regression their children experienced during the school closures last year and how some children’s development and behaviour has still been impacted by the initial school closure".
Parents' concerns have increased
Parents' concerns have only increased with schools being closed throughout January, especially as students receive physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, and other supports at the school. Such supports are incorporated into the education plan within the school setting.
The issue of Rosedale Special School will also be raised by People Before Profit TDs. PBP Galway spokesperson Adrian Curran [pictured below] said the Government must produce a plan that will allow Rosedale, and other such schools re-open safely.
“Any plan should involve looking for volunteers from special needs assistants and Special Ed Teachers who would be willing to go to work in line with public health advice, and matching these educators with students who want to go into school, and who would not be putting their health or the health of those they live with, in danger. “
He said the Government could group some schools in the same locality together, where appropriate, or find different venues if necessary.
Both Dep Farrell and Mr Curran are calling on the Government to meaningfully engage with Rosedale on this issue.
"Parents are deeply concerned at the effect this closure will have on their children once more," said Dep Farrell. "Minister Foley needs to step up here and act. She must meet with the Parents’ Association urgently and address their concerns.”
"This will require real and meaningful consultation with staff and parents," said Mr Curran, "and must include a suite of measures, options and supports."