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CITY TRIBUNE

Who’d be a teacher as Covid comes to class?

Dara Bradley

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Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

Who’d be a teacher, lads? Like, seriously.

The public perception is that teaching is a cushy number. And in fairness, BC – Before Coronavirus – teaching had its attractions.

It’s a State job, permanent and pensionable, and teachers enjoy holidays rivalled only by TDs and Senators. Weekends off, teachers also clock off earlier than most nine-to-five workers.

They won’t get rich on the salary, but opportunities exist to supplement income. Some teachers provide grinds, or take second or seasonal jobs. And there are extras for principals and for teachers eligible for qualification allowances.

A common response from teachers, when slagged about just how good they have it, was to point out that everyone got the same CAO form to fill in during Leaving Cert.

Which, of course, is true. But aren’t most of you glad now that you didn’t put Mary I or St Pat’s as your first choices for university?

You’d sooner lick door-handles in University Hospital Galway for a living. Okay, not quite. But teachers are now on the front-line of the response to Coronavirus.

Lockdown one was rough. It’s hard enough trying to engage a class of 30-plus six-year-olds when they’re sitting in a classroom. Try doing it remotely, on apps or email, when some kids don’t even have iPads or computers and others have sketchy Wi-Fi, or even sketchier parents who can’t be bothered. Like most workers, it was a significant change in work practices for scant recognition.

Then, during summer, secondary school teachers faced the fear of legal writs (welcome to journalists’ world!) for allocating marks to their students’ Leaving Cert. Calculated grades was a minefield.

Lockdown two is rougher. Because now it’s becoming clear that the entire school community – teachers, special-needs assistants, secretaries, principals, cleaners and students – face other hazards.

The sneaky suspicion is that schools aren’t the safe haven the authorities would have us believe. Safer, perhaps, than many other settings, but the definition of a close contact in classrooms is ridiculous.

We all know of a school in Galway that has had a case. Teachers are worried. Even though they’re not classified as close contacts, they know they have been in close contact with children in classrooms where Covid has been confirmed. If they worked anywhere else, they would be considered close contacts.

Pubs have closed if staff tested positive. But only children in the pods with a positive case are told to stay home – everyone else is expected to pretend nothing happened.

There is also an information vacuum. Teachers are learning from their students that their colleagues are out with Covid, or are isolating because they’re close contacts. Substitute teachers aren’t told the reason they’re getting a fortnight’s work is to cover for a confirmed case.

Teachers are scared. Some are feigning symptoms to secure Covid tests for peace of mind. Others plan unpaid leave before Christmas, so they can isolate for two weeks before going home to vulnerable families.

As a society, we’ve decided we want schools open. It’s long past time we put procedures in place to make them safe.
For more Bradley Bytes, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

CITY TRIBUNE

WATCH: The Olivers to the rescue … again!

Enda Cunningham

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Father and son rescue team Patrick and Morgan Oliver were back in action in Salthill this morning, when they helped a swimmer who got into difficulty.

A member of the public raised the alarm at around 10.30am and the Coastguard sought the assistance of Galway Lifeboat who launched from Galway Docks.

Two members of the lifeboat shore crew made their way to the promenade to assist in the rescue.

Patrick and Morgan Oliver were fishing off Salthill at the time and spotted the man taking refuge on Palmers Rock about 200 metres from Salthill shore. They took him on board their fishing boat and brought him back to Galway Docks. Galway Lifeboat in the meantime was stood down. 

The man was taken into the Lifeboat station where he received treatment for symptoms of hypothermia until an ambulance arrived.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Assurances given on progress of road, bridge and bus projects

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – It will take time and a lot of money, but the city’s network of major transport projects will proceed on schedule – that was the assurance given this week to councillors by City Council Chief Executive, Brendan McGrath.

Councillors had expressed concerns at their meeting on Monday about the slow rate of progress being made with major capital projects including two new pedestrian bridges over the River Corrib.

However, Brendan McGrath told the meeting that the timelines for the range of capital transport projects – while challenging – were reasonable, pragmatic and achievable.

“All of the projects are moving forward but we must adhere to all the procedures and the different stages that have to be complied with: we have no choice in that,” said Brendan McGrath.

Senior City Council Engineer, Uinsinn Finn, in reply to a number of queries about potential new bus routes, said that while the Council worked closely with Bus Éireann and the bus companies, the local authority didn’t decide on the routes.

Earlier in the meeting, Cllr Peter Keane (FF), asked ‘how it could take 63 months’ to deliver a pedestrian/cycle bridge over the Corrib even though the piers (old Corrib Railway Line) were already in place for the project.

“How can it take over five years to put a bridge like this over the Corrib,” he asked, after hearing that this €11 million Greenways-linked project would not be completed until 2026.

There is a snappier timescale for the Salmon Weir Pedestrian/Cycle Bridge – to be located adjacent to the existing structure on the southern side – with planning consent expected by next Summer and a completion date set for the end of 2022.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Council removes ‘shop local’ signage despite agreement with Latin Quarter

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Signage promoting a ‘eat, drink and shop local’ campaign, erected by a local business group, was removed by the Galway City Council – despite an understanding that permission had been granted.

The bilingual signage was placed on a number of solar compactor bins and bollard-control boxes in the city centre by the Latin Quarter business group, in an attempt to promote local businesses grappling with the effects of Covid-19.

A source in the group told the Galway City Tribune that the signage cost around €3,500 and that permission to erect it had been given by a ‘senior Council official’.

The signs were put up in mid-October but only lasted around two weeks when City Hall’s Environment Department had them removed, claiming that they had not been consulted.

“There was clearly a breakdown in communications in City Hall because we had permission from a senior official to proceed, and then the Environment Department took issue with the signs and insisted that they had to be removed,” said the source.

A Council spokesperson said they were currently in discussions with the Latin Quarter to provide promotional material and added “there’s been no falling out here”.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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