SNAs will not be reassigned to nursing or other front-line medical and healthcare roles in the HSE.
In a statement issued on the evening of April 1st, 2020, the trade union Fórsa clarified the details contained in a circular published earlier in the day by the Department of Education & Skills.
Fórsa points out in its statement that, according to the Department of Education circular, any reassigned SNAs will be allocated to the HSE’s children’s disability services, where most are expected to maintain contact with the student that they already assist – and their family – primarily through remote applications.
Andy Pike, Head of Education at Fórsa, said there was no question of SNAs taking on nursing, medical or nursing assistant roles, for which they were wholly unqualified.
“SNAs perform vital roles, which are still needed, in supporting children with special needs. But they are not qualified as nurses. There is no question of SNAs, or other unqualified staff, taking on nursing or other medical roles, and the education department’s circular does not suggest that they will.
“Instead, the department says SNAs will generally be reassigned from schools-based work to continue important supports to children with special needs, who are now isolated in their homes,” he said.
The circular from the Department of Education & Skills envisages SNAs advising parents on setting up workstations, sharing the child’s familiar school schedule (eg, toileting schedule, sensory break, storytime or learning activities) and sharing stories to help the child’s understanding of Covid–19.
In some cases SNAs may be assigned to young people or disabled adults to provide information on how to access essential services.