By Kenneth Fox
The Government’s plan to fully reopen schools next month is expected to cost more than €200 millionr.
The Taoiseach said the plan – which is to be unveiled on Monday – will allow schools to reopen in a “robust and resilient” way.
The Irish Examiner reports that the plan will include funding for extra substitute teachers and enhanced cleaning regimes.
Kieran Christie, general secretary of the Association of Secondary Teachers, says it is clear more substitutes will be needed.
“Going to work with head colds and so on, the likes of that practice will not be acceptable nor undertaken from now on for obvious reasons.
“That will lead to a necessity to manage absences and obviously additional substitutions will be required in those cases.”
The financial package will include a range of supports for schools such as:
- €125m of Covid-related support funding and €75m in minor works funding announced in the July stimulus on Thursday;
- The plan will fully be in accordance with the public health advice, with stricter social-distancing requirements for older children;
- It will include a substantial provision for substitute teachers to grant principals “significant administrative leave” to ensure schools are Covid-ready;
- Special provisions will be made for students and teachers with immune-system deficiencies;
- There will be a major escalation of school cleaning practices;
- Students with special needs will each get €74 to help facilitate their return to school;
- Investment to ensure the complex school transport system can cope in a Covid environment will also be included in the plan.
Taoiseach, Micheál Martin said the financial package will support schools not matter what arises.
“The objective is that schools reopen fully and keep everyone safe. The full plans will be outlined on Monday.
“They are, by nature, comprehensive. It’s a holistic plan, involving everyone in the school community, ranging from curriculum to teacher supply and supports, right across the board.”