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Government announce details of almost €400 million plan to reopen schools in August

The government has announced details on how they plan to reopen schools in August.

The plan, which will cost €370 million, was announced by Taoiseach Micheal Martin and Minister for Education Norma Foley.

It will see 4,000 schools reopened to serve over one million students.

€75m will be set aside for building works to help ensuring physical distancing in classrooms.

While €40m will be a dedicated cleaning grant fund with further millions being set aside for Personal Protective Equipment and hand hygiene equipment for schools.

In terms of how schools will operate, children below third class will not need to maintain social distancing but all other primary school children will sit in pod bubbles.

Secondary school children will have to maintain a 1 metre social distance but face masks are optional and not required.

In a bid to maintain the distance, gyms, libraries, music rooms and science rooms, as well as halls in nearby community buildings, will be used as classrooms.

To ensure there is sufficient teachers, 1,080 additional teaching posts will be created.

600 post will be made available to post-primary schools while 120 guidance posts will be created to support student wellbeing.

The remaining posts will be used to support post primary schools who are experiencing difficulties with reopening and maintaining social distancing.

€84.7 million will be set aside so that schools can hire replacement SNA, teaching staff and administrating staff should they be absent through Covid-19 or if they are required to cocoon.

While €41.2 million will be allocated for school’s to hire substitute staff while principal’s are to get at least one administrative day per year to deal with the extra paperwork that will be associated with all of this.

Minister Foley said: “Much of what is very best about school and our education system has been denied to young people for many months.

“It is this that has made me determined that this plan and this package will be as comprehensive and as practical as possible.”

SEE ALSO – Laois men appointed to key roles in An Post and Bank of Ireland

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.