Thursday, 30 July 2020
Opening of Schools and Calculated Grades: Statements
Michael Collins (Cork South West, Independent)
The Minister spoke about positive engagement. I thank her for the very positive engagement she has afforded me on behalf of schools in Cork South-West in the short time since she was appointed Minister. She is a credit to the difficult position she holds. I have discussed a good number of issues with her in the past week and tonight I have a different area to travel. My question concerns fee-charging schools such as Bandon Grammar School, which will not receive any assistance under the minor works grant scheme for necessary changes to classrooms, toilets and so on to enable social distancing and enhance hygiene and will not receive any staffing alleviation to enable classes to be spread out. It is not fully clear to these schools whether they may avail of assistance under the Covid-19 capitation grant scheme for the provision of additional cleaning support and the purchase of hand sanitisers and PPE or access additional supervision supports to ensure the safety of pupils and staff. Will these essential supports be forthcoming to Bandon Grammar School and other fee-paying schools? The Bandon school caters for a very scattered community across south and west Cork and County Kerry. The school has had to make very substantial changes to its boarding facilities and reduce capacity to comply with the best advice. The fees for the school are kept at a minimum as it mainly serves rural areas. The cost of the works that are required cannot be passed on to the parents of the schoolgoing children.
Given this very serious situation, Bandon Grammar School is in need of assistance and direction. Will it be given assistance under the minor works grant for the necessary changes and can it avail of assistance under the Covid-19 capitation grant? I might have a few more questions after the Minister replies.