Thursday, 30 July 2020
Opening of Schools and Calculated Grades: Statements
Norma Foley (Kerry, Fianna Fail)
I reiterate that I appreciate the Deputy's positive engagement on all these issues up to this point. The matter of fee-paying schools is an important one as questions have been raised around it. I confirm that all fee-charging schools have been contacted by my Department to advise them that while schools outside of the free schemes are not automatically covered by the minor works grant, the Department absolutely recognises that there may well be circumstances in which fee-charging schools require some support to implement necessary reconfiguration works, as envisaged under the Roadmap for the Full Return to School, to facilitate reopening. These schools have also been advised that in exceptional circumstances, they can seek assistance from the Department for staffing or financial supports where they can demonstrate particular challenges brought about by the impact of Covid-19. They can also seek support to implement any measures that might be required to limit the risk of spreading infection. In addition, the additional allocation of guidance counsellor hours absolutely includes the fee-charging schools. Of course, schools will be required to demonstrate clearly their difficulties in implementing necessary control measures and how the provision of additional supports would help them to overcome those particular difficulties. Additional supports will be considered in the context of education provision in the mainstream schools. I appreciate the Deputy raising this matter and I confirm that all these schools are eligible to apply for aid, should they have a specific need and requirement.