Taoiseach confirms schools reopening; Norma Foley rejects criticism

Taoiseach confirms schools reopening; Norma Foley rejects criticism
Taoiseach Micheál Martin, who said all schools will fully reopen next month.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin and education minister Norma Foley have confirmed that all schools will fully re-open next month.

Following a briefing with officials at the Department of Education, Mr Martin said that following an intense period of consultation with education partners, the Cabinet will approve a "comprehensive plan" on Monday.

Mr Martin and Ms Foley rejected suggestions that union opposition delayed the plan, with both paying tribute to what they called the collective buy-in from all sides.

Ms Foley said she will bring a memorandum to Cabinet on Monday for approval and it will be of sufficient size and scale to ensure all children will be able to return.

Additional funding will also be included in the plan to provide for adequate supports for teachers and students with immune difficulties.

Norma Foley also said that criticism of her handling of the issue in recent weeks has been unwarranted. 

Ms Foley said: "I have worked very closely with the partners in education, with the support of all the officials here. 

"We're doing the work, much of it is unseen in the last few weeks I will admit, perhaps unheralded.

"When we produce the roadmap for the future of education it will not be unappreciated.

Ms Foley strongly denied that she has been absent from the issue of schools' returning in August. 

"I believe in doing the work. I believe in engagement. I come from the education sector myself. 

"I see on the ground where you have full engagement with all of those who work in the education environment, you can achieve great things. 

"That's the philosophy that I have brought to the Department here and that's the philosophy that I will be happy to be judged on," she said. 

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