Sunday 18 November 2018

Remaining pupils waiting to return to school following structural safety concerns get green light

St Luke’s National School, Tyrrelstown, Dublin was closed to pupils last week due to safety concerns. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.
St Luke’s National School, Tyrrelstown, Dublin was closed to pupils last week due to safety concerns. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

The last of the pupils waiting to return to school after the discovery of structural safety concerns in their buildings will be back at their desks tomorrow.

St Luke’s National School, Tyrrelstown, west Dublin is reopening its ground floor, which will accommodate junior infants, senior infants and first and second classes.

The school’s more senior pupils returned today, although they are being transferred to the nearby Le Chéile secondary school, pending further structural investigations at St Luke’s.

The re-opening of the school has been delayed since Monday because of concerns by parents yesterday about the protective measures put in place over the weekend, including the quality of finish.

In a statement today, principal Vivienne Bourke said the school patron and Board of Management had made the informed decision that the ground floor would be safe for pupils to return to school tomorrow.

St Luke’s and the neighbouring Tyrrelstown Educate Together were deemed to need precautionary protective measures, both internally and externally following a recent structural assessment.

Both schools are restricted to opening their ground floors only, for the time being, and Tyrrelstown Educate Together has relocated senior classes to nearby Hansfield Educate Together.

In the statement posted on the St Luke’s website, the principal has advised that children have a coat and warm clothing for tomorrow, and a change of clothes/socks for wet days, especially the older children, who must walk to and from Le Chéile every day.

She has also asked that children bring adequate food and drink so that there is as little disruption to the school day as possible, and that, if a child is sick, or has an appointment, that they are kept at home.

The two Tyrrelstown schools are among 42 built by the same contractor, Western Building Systems, which have undergone structural assessments after worrying discoveries at Ardgillanj Community College, Balbriggan, Co Dublin last month.

Some 23 of the schools been confirmed as needing remediation work or, at least, precautionary protective measures, pending further investigations.

Education Minister Joe McHugh thanked the school communities,  and the companies involved in installing protective measures, and noted particular logistical challenges for schools in which only the ground floor is reopening this week.

He said an immediate priority was to facilitate the safe and timely opening of the upper floors of those buildings, and said they would also move as quickly as possible to the next phase of structural investigations at other schools and implementation any remediation works required.

“I can assure the school communities involved that no effort will be spared in ensuring these issues are comprehensively and permanently resolved,” he said.

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