Dáil debates

Thursday, 30 July 2020

Opening of Schools and Calculated Grades: Statements

 

11:15 pm

Norma Foley (Kerry, Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I thank the Deputy for his questions. I assume the Deputy is asking what will happen when substitution is not available in a school. There are several streams or options within schools regarding substitution. I repeat that there is a national roll-out of a substitute panel. Importantly, and perhaps I did not say this already, it was piloted first in six places and a number of posts are being made available so that more than 60 areas around the country will have substitute panels.

I want to be clear that if the number currently specified needs to be increased to meet the needs of schools, it will be increased. For this reason, I do not believe that special education teachers will be required to relinquish their role in the school. I value the work of special education teachers. As I said, there are other options available. There is the substitute panel, the pool the school would normally use for substitutes and the national text line. I would like to think that all those options will be exhausted. Those are the first and main options but I reiterate that if a substitute panel requires more teachers to ensure it is operating fully, then that will be done.

Regarding specialist rooms in schools, I confirm that in those rooms the number of students is reduced to the usual numbers that would be there because of the nature of the subjects. That will be very positive regarding social distancing. If there are exceptional measures, every opportunity to limit the number of students in a room or the option of looking at other rooms within a campus should be utilised. From my personal knowledge of the situation, the advantage I see is that the numbers in those classes are already reduced, which I believe will be of some help.

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