The difficulties faced by one north Louth school were raised at a meeting of the Dail Eireann 'Special Committee on the Reopening of Schools' last week.
The meeting was attended by members of the Department of Education, and teaching unions, and looked at the overall position of schools returning after the lockdown.
Louth TD Fergus O'Dowd highlighted the difficulties at Rampark N.S in Lordship, saying: 'I want to praise teachers, parents and indeed the children themselves who have really reacted positively to going back to back to school in these most difficult times.'
'The professionalism of everyone involved is remarkable because this is not just a normal school year with the problems that happen in schools. This is a pandemic year and I want to praise everybody concerned.'
He added: The issue is relating to schools which have lost teachers. A school in Louth, Rampark National School, had 180 students on assessment day last year but is now expected to have 170. The school has lost two teachers leading to an unacceptable increase in the number of students in some classes.'
'I ask the unions to articulate the rights of students in these cases, particularly with regard to those with special needs and schools that have lost at least one teacher or, in some cases, two.'
He also raised the concerns of parents of children who have special needs.
'I have a constituent who is a child with special needs and requires resources. The child has been medically assessed as having that need. The Department has turned it down and the child is now in school. Their parents and their medical people advise that the child needs a full-time SNA and the Department has not given a date yet for that review in the school.'
He added: I ask that the unions campaign for and on behalf of children whose appeals have been delayed and whose education, therefore, has been significantly compromised. The happiness of such children and their parents and teachers is severely challenged.
INTO President Mary Magner said: 'I thank the Deputy for his comments and for his praise of teachers. We hope that such praise for our school leaders will lead to the return of their former remuneration package, which has now not been paid for more than ten years.'
She said: 'With regard to special educational needs, the INTO has been demanding resources for children with special educational needs for a very long time. This is not the first time the issues the Deputy has highlighted have come to our attention. We will continue to work in this regard.
The issue of overcrowding in classrooms is very easily solved. Class sizes must be reduced. Our pupil-teacher ratio is the highest in Europe at 25:1, while those of our counterparts in the European Union average 20:1. We and our colleague unions have spoken about the size of classrooms. This issue would be solved easily by reducing class sizes. If class sizes are reduced, much of this will be ameliorated and mitigated.
Deputy O'Dowd responded: 'With respect, the point I am making is that the number of students in the school about which I am talking has actually reduced by ten and that the penalty it has suffered as a result is the loss of two teachers. That is not acceptable.'