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Covid-19: Statement from ASTI President and General Secretary

Dear colleagues,

This is an unprecedented, unpredictable and challenging time.  Faced with the Covid-19 global pandemic post-primary teachers have had to grapple with significant disruption to their professional and private lives and to the lives of their students.

With virtually no prior warning, teachers have had to undergo a rapid transition from a work routine based around the school day, to supporting their school communities via remote communications. This change has come about due to the advice of our national public health experts, to assist in positioning the country to be able to help those most in need in the coming weeks. We commend the extraordinary work that has already been undertaken by teachers and schools and the solidarity they have shown to their school communities. We also wish to express our deepest gratitude to our committed and heroic health service workers. We also give our thanks to all other workers across a myriad of workplaces for their huge efforts at this time. 

No doubt, many lessons will be learned over the coming weeks and months about how we organise our lives and our society.  As teachers working in one of the most underfunded education systems in the world, we have hard evidence of the inadequacy of spending on IT in our schools. It is now apparent that this lack of investment has implications for equality of access to quality IT during a period of school closure such as this.

However, the health and welfare of our most vulnerable – whether family members, colleagues or students – is of paramount importance right now.

We wish to assure every ASTI member that your union is here to support you in any way that we can over the coming weeks.

ASTI Head Office continues to operate as normal. Our staff are working remotely and are committed to supporting you as efficiently and effectively as possible. The ASTI website contains a list of contacts for all ASTI departments. Our work in raising your concerns with the Department of Education and Skills, school management bodies, etc. continues and all updates are published on our website.  Please continue to reach out to us about any issue you have in relation to your work as a teacher.

You will know by now that the ASTI Annual Convention at Easter has been postponed. The other teacher unions – the INTO and TUI – have also postponed their conferences. Convention is a vital forum for the ASTI and its members, both in terms of policy development and in terms of charting the direction of the union. As the situation evolves we will be better able to plan for the running of Annual Convention. Until then, we will continue to advance your most pressing issues where ever and whenever we can. Meantime, look after yourselves and do what you can to keep our most vulnerable safe and well.

Tugaigí aire daoibh féin agus do bhur muintir. Imeoidh an ghéarchéim seo agus cúnamh Dé fillfimid ar dhomhan a bheidh níos fearr.

Deirdre Mac Donald       Kieran Christie
ASTI President                ASTI General Secretary