Written answers

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Department of Education and Skills

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Photo of Johnny MythenJohnny Mythen (Wexford, Sinn Fein)
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192. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the amount of funding that will be allocated to schools in County Wexford to provide the necessary equipment and resources to reopen in September 2020; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19428/20]

Photo of Norma FoleyNorma Foley (Kerry, Fianna Fail)
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On Monday, the 27th July, my Department published the report to Government “Reopening Our Schools, The Roadmap for the Full Return to School”.

This Roadmap set outs how schools will reopen for all students from the end of August and what the operation of our schools will look like and be sustainable in a COVID-19 context.  It has been developed in line with public health advice issued by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC), the Roadmap for Society and Business, and follows comprehensive and intensive engagement with education stakeholders including the school management bodies and staff representatives.

My Department is providing capital and current funding of an additional €377 million to support the safe and sustainable reopening of schools under the Roadmap.

There will be an additional €52 million for schools to put in place enhanced cleaning and hygiene measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in schools. Enhanced grants are being made available for cleaning to schools with special classes and special schools.

Funding of approx. €84.7 million so that schools can employ replacement teaching staff, SNA and administrative staff. There will be additional funding of €41.2 million, for substitution in primary schools. This will provide more certainty on the availability of substitutes for primary schools and cover substitutions that are not covered by existing schemes. The Supply Panel Scheme will be expanded nationwide and I am allocating 200 posts to provide substitute cover through these panels. The purpose of supply panels is to support schools to manage the sick leave and other absences by having a supply of teachers to meet substitution needs when required. Schools will continue to be able to access substitute teachers through the normal process, particularly if they are not connected to a supply panel.

Other funding measures for primary schools include release days for teaching principals which equates to one release day per week and release time for deputy principals in primary schools with an admin principal.

There is also funding of €40m for enhanced supervision for post primary schools to minimise the interaction of students from different classes, in line with public health advice. An additional 1,080 teaching posts at post-primary level at a cost of €53 million will be provided to support the important work of teaching and learning and provide additional teachers needed to support teacher substitution, management of physical distancing requirements by reallocating class timetables in schools to smaller groups class sizes where necessary.

Funding of €4.2 million will also be made available to enable schools to employ an aide to assist with implementing logistical changes. €3.8m is being made available to ensure that schools have lead worker representatives, whose role is to support the school to limit the risk of COVID-19 infections.

I also recognise that the full implementation of the COVID-19 Response Plans for Schools, and the Public Health Advice, may require some reconfiguration works within schools. To support this work, a once off enhanced minor works grant will paid to all primary schools by mid-August.  There is a one off €75 million capital allocation to support schools to prepare their buildings and classrooms for reopening including an uplift for schools with SEN pupils.

In providing funding to schools in this way, schools will have the necessary flexibility to implement necessary physical measures in their school quickly in compliance with the Public Health Advice and the Roadmap.


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