Two schools hit with defects to reopen later this week

Two primary schools still closed as a result of structural safety issues identified two weeks ago expect to be open again by Thursday.

Further work is being undertaken at Tyrrelstown Educate Together and the neighbouring St Luke’s NS, west Dublin, before pupils return.

When they reopen, they will both be confined to their ground floors, forcing hundreds of pupils to relocate to other schools while remediation work is carried out.

Hopes that pupils would be back yesterday were dashed by concerns about the quality of the finish on the precautionary measures put in place to facilitate the reopening of the ground floors.

The two schools needed safety fencing, protective decking on the outside and internal timber supports, but criticisms included sharp edges, unfinished woodwork and exposed surfaces which could potentially be a hazard.

It led to a three-hour site meeting yesterday involving Department of Education officials, representatives of the schools and parents, and engineers to discuss what needed to be done to satisfy concerns.

As well as issues about the integrity of the buildings and finish on the protective measures, the disruption presents a logistical nightmare for the two schools in ferrying children to and from alternative accommodation.

More than 250 workers, in five teams, spent the weekend carrying out work on 22 schools where precautionary protective measures were undertaken before reopening after the mid-term break.

They are among 42 schools built by Co Tyrone-based contractor Western Building Systems (WBS) that have undergone structural assessments in the past 10 days.

The assessments followed the discovery of significant structural issues at Ardgillan Community College, Balbriggan, Co Dublin – which remains closed – and subsequent discoveries at the two schools in Tyrrelstown. Some 19 of the schools reopened without any intervention, 19 needed external precautionary measures and three needed internal and external measures.

Education Minister Joe McHugh will appear before the Oireachtas Education Committee today to answer questions on the matter.

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