A Cork primary school has told the parents of 12 children to keep them at home because there are no teachers available to take their class.

Two out of four teachers at Owenabue Educate Together National School are out sick today.

The new school has 30 pupils spread across junior and senior infants, as well as a special class for children with autism.

The principal has also accused the system of "doubling down" on the learning loss already experienced by children with additional learning needs as they forego tuition so that mainstream classes can be covered.

Describing how the national crisis in substitute cover is affecting her school, Tríona Golden told RTÉ News that she did all she could this morning to find substitutes after two of her teachers called at 7am to tell her they were unable to attend.

As well as looking for substitute cover from a local panel and from other established channels, Ms Golden said she contacted all other local school principals.

"I even put it up on Twitter, but nothing," she said.

She said that by 8.15am the school had no option but to inform the parents of children in senior infants that the class would be closed.

Ms Golden, who is a teaching principal, has stepped in to take the junior infants class, which was also without a teacher this morning.

However, as a special education teacher, she is supposed to be working with children with additional needs.

"The guilt is enormous," she said. "You know that these are the kids who struggled the most during the school closures.

"The gap was already widening, but now we are actually doubling down on their learning loss. For these kids we are doing the opposite of catching up."

Schools across the country are experiencing a crisis in substitute cover, as an existing shortage of teachers has been greatly exacerbated by the pandemic.

Many more teachers and other school staff are being obliged to stay home due to Covid-19 related reasons.

Covid-19 restrictions also mean that schools can no longer resort to traditional measures, such as breaking up classes and placing groups of children in with others.

Since September, schools have complained that they have been left with no option but to allocate special education teachers to cover for absent mainstream class teachers and that children with additional needs are losing out as a result.