Government to unveil "comprehensive" plan for return to school on Monday

Government to unveil "comprehensive" plan for return to school on Monday
The government will unveil its plan to reopen schools on Monday, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said. File Picture.

A "comprehensive" plan to reopen schools five days a week at the end of August will be unveiled on Monday, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has confirmed.

Mr Martin said he was “ very confident” the plan will work and it will be finalised over the weekend before going to Cabinet for approval on Monday.

Both Mr Martin and education minister Norma Foley said the plan is see all children to return to school which are to reopen fully.

Schools have been shut since March 12 due to the coronavirus pandemic and, following a briefing with officials with the Taoiseach at the Department of Education, Ms Foley said the plan will enable all students and their teachers to return to the classroom.

A financial package believed to be worth tens of millions of euro, will be approved by Government.

Ms Foley said the top priority in getting everyone back to school is to “keep everyone safe”.

Although he confirmed the plan is coming on Monday, Mr Martin would not be drawn on the granular detail of it but he and Ms Foley stressed the need for schools to re-open.

“I think it is essential we get our schools reopen. The entire school community has been involved in this and the plan is about the well-being of the entire school community. The minister will be bringing a very comprehensive memorandum to Government on Monday. What has struck me has been the emphasis on the well-being and the importance of guidance,” Mr Martin said.

"This is not about resuming schools for the sake of it, it is very much a plan which will enable schools to reopen fully for the long haul."

At the same press conference, junior minister for special education Josepha Madigan revealed that €74 will be given to each student with special needs to help facilitate their return to school.

Mr Martin said getting the schools open is a top priority not just for the department but for the whole of Government.

"There was a government wide, and a keen commitment within the education community as well to open our schools safely and to get our children back into the schools," he said.

"I've repeatedly said the priority is the child in the classroom the development of the child. We don't want to limit the life chances of children by keeping them out of school for too long.

"The minister, Norma Foley, has been working with our department officials and crucially with all of the stakeholders in education to make sure that this happen. Separate from the grand scheme of course, there would be a significant package of supports to enable schools to reopen.

"We will be in a position, hopefully, next week to announce the measures that are designed to enable our schools to reopen."


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