Special Needs Assistants in schools are to be reassigned to new duties to assist with the Covid-19 emergency, it was announced today.
All SNAs are being asked to be on standby for public service work under the contingency plan.
Staff may be asked to replace nurses and other medical staff in settings such as community healthcare facilities for children with disabilities in order to free up frontline workers for essential services.
They may also be asked to provide remote supports to families of children who they are familiar with, including scheduled calls or video links.
The Department of Education has stated it is unlikely that all 16,000 SNAs in the country will be reassigned. The contingency plan is being put in place in the event of an extension to public health measures.
SNAs will be asked to access a web link over the coming week and answer a questionnaire. The Department of Education and Skills and the Public Appointments Service will then manage temporary assignments.
Announcing contingency plans today, Minister for Education Joe McHugh said:
“Staff across the education sector deserve huge thanks for the effort they are putting in to continue teaching and support for students amid the COVID-19 response.
“It is a very challenging time for everyone. Your work at this time will never be forgotten by the people you support.
“Our priority in the education and training sector is to ensure young people and students keep learning, despite the trying circumstances.
“Having said that, some workers will now be able to put their skills and experience to further use.
“SNAs do fantastic work day in day out for children with a variety of needs in our schools. Their support hugely enriches the lives of children. Crucially, they have much-needed skills and experience which can be of huge benefit to other services and I believe will be of great support to the national effort.
“I know this is a new departure for many people but opening up a temporary assignment scheme is about giving some workers the opportunity to be on standby to help others in great need.”