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'Full return of schools' still on track for September - Foley

Education Minister Norma Foley says all plans are working towards the full reopening of schools f...
Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

08.46 26 Jul 2021


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'Full return of schools' still...

'Full return of schools' still on track for September - Foley

Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

08.46 26 Jul 2021


Share this article


Education Minister Norma Foley says all plans are working towards the full reopening of schools from late next month.

CO2 monitors will be made available to schools to ensure air quality is at safe levels for staff and students.

She also said the vaccine portal for those aged between 16 and 18 is set to open in "the coming days".

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There has been some concern about the reopening of schools in just over a month's time, amid high COVID-19 rates among young people.

The vaccine programme also hasn't been extended to teenagers yet, with NIAC still deciding whether to give the green light for vaccinating those aged 12-15.

Infectious disease expert Dr Paddy Mallon, meanwhile, told The Sunday Independent the return to school could be a 'ticking time bomb' - suggesting children should be considered for vaccines.

On Newstalk Breakfast, however, Minister Foley said there's "absolutely not" a question of children's education being put on hold again.

'Full return of schools' still on track for September - Foley

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

She said: "I am bringing a memo to Cabinet on Tuesday - basically all our plans are in place, and we are planning for a full return in late August and early September.

“We managed to successfully keep our schools open, and do it safely. We continued to engage with public health right through the summer, and they are very conscious themselves of the need for our children to safely return to school.

“All our preparations, all our commitments are to the full return of school.”

She said there is concern and anxiety among parents after comments of the weekend, but says they should be reassured about how schools operated last year.

She explained: “The school communities have become so conscious of all the mitigation measures that are required - so we will continue with the mitigation measures that were required last year.

“Of course, we have the added bonus this year that all our staff will be vaccinated.

“CO2 monitors will be provided to our schools.”

The Taoiseach Micheál Martin outside Government Buildings The Taoiseach Micheál Martin outside Government Buildings, 21-05-2021. Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews

Speaking to reporters this afternoon, the Taoiseach Micheál Martin also insisted that schools would reopen as planned.

“I spoke to the Deputy CMO last week and to NPHET and I mean, we are fully committed to the schools opening, taking additional precautions in doing that and the vaccination helps enormously on that front.

“So, the schools will be reopening.”

Minister Foley said schools should look at things such as vent improvements or measures around windows, and resources will be available for any remedial work needed.

The minister also noted that vaccine registration for 16-18-year-olds is expected to open in the coming days.

However, a final decision on vaccinating younger teenagers (aged 12-15) is still to be made - with Minister Foley saying that's a decision for NIAC, and “not in the gift” of the Department of Education.

Main image: Children in a classroom (Picture by: Danny Lawson/PA Archive/PA Images) / Education Minister Norma Foley (Picture by: Education Department/PA Archive/PA Images)

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