Pupils at two schools in Tyrrelstown, west Dublin began their new regime of being taken by bus to alternative schools today after the closure of their regular classrooms amid safety fears.
Tyrrelstown Educate Together school and the neighbouring St Luke’s National School were found to have defective construction during inspections carried out over the mid-term break.
Concerns arose when some schools built by the Western Building Systems company were found to have question marks over their construction quality.
Nine coaches lined up in the car park of the school campus before 8am this morning as Gardai implemented a traffic management plan to coordinate the movement of pupils to a school at Hansfield around 15 minutes drive away.
“They’re a little bit out of sorts because it's not their normal routine.
“It’s nerve wracking because I'm putting them on a bus and I don't know where they are going. I don't know what Hansfield is like and where their classrooms are,” said Niamh Stanford, who has two children in 2nd and 5th class in the Educate Together school.
“We were told this might take five weeks to fix but there was a meeting yesterday and it seems it might take longer. We just don’t know,” she added.
“My partner went to the meeting and was told that the remedial work won't happen until they are on their holidays in June, so I don't know,” Niamh explained.
Speaking about the builders of the school she said we send our children to school, to be safe.
“Whatever happened. Whoever signed off, it’s not right,” she said.
Niamh’s views were echoed by Adriana Bereanu, who has two children in 3rd class and 6th class in the school.
She spoke after waving them off on a coach.
“I feel very concerned. My little girl said she is scared, she is concerned she might feel sick in the bus and be stuck in traffic and be late for school,” said Adriana.
“I work nights. I could be here today, but other mornings they might have to come with neighbours or friends to get here on time.
“My employer has asked how long this disruption will go in for so it is a concern,” she added.
She said the builders should have built the school properly in the first place, and it should not have opened if it was not safe.
“It was very upsetting when we found out we sent our children to a school that was not safe,” she explained.
“As a community we shouldn't be in this position,” she added, thanking the teachers for working over the mid term period to move supplies.
Magda Balaneasa has a nine year-old boy in the school. She had her concerns too.
“He has to come home alone sometimes when I am working and I will be worried about him,” she said.
“I don't know whose fault this is,” she added.
The younger pupils of Educate Together were able to have their classes in the building while work continues, but only the ground floor is open.
At St Luke’s National School there was no classes.
The 3rd to 6th class pupils were walked to alternative classrooms in the nearby Le Cheile secondary school.
But the junior pupils had nowhere to go to today and remained at home.
One mother kept all her five children out of school amid safety fears, and formed part of a protest at the gates this morning.
Deborah Solinas has three children with additional needs, aged 11, 8 and 6, she felt could not be accommodated with the new arrangements.
“We had a meeting with the architects and the school welfare officer yesterday and we all agreed as parents that the school was unsafe to attend. It's not only not structurally safe but also environmentally and socially not a good environment to be in,” she said.
“The plan was for the older kids to walk to Le Cheile secondary school but I wasn't allowed in to see if it was safe for my children with special needs to attend. I was told I would not be allowed into the school to give my kids medication.
“If there was any problems my kids would be walked all the way back to St Luke’s, I would be phoned, and then they would be brought back to Le Cheile.
“For them it's a struggle on a daily basis to keep up their energy levels to attend school, so I knew that wasn't going to be a possibility for my children. There was no other solution,” Deborah told Independent.ie.
The Department of Education has responded to claims by Western Building Systems (WBS) that it signed off on the three schools that have been closed, or partially closed, because of concerns about structural safety.
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