Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

20.54 7 Jul 2020


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Money will need to be spent to ensure schools are supported when they reopen in September, a school principals' group has warned.

Ahead of the new school year, Damien White - President of the Irish Primary Principals Network - said a "great many challenges" remain.

Earlier today, the Oireachtas COVID-19 committee heard calls from the representatives of school principals for a 'financial package'.

Speaking on The Hard Shoulder, Mr White insisted they are working to have every child back to school after the summer.

'Money will need to be spent' to support reopening schools, principals say

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He said: "We're trying to look at the best way to get children back for the autumn term, and to make sure every child is back insofar as we possible can.

"We also wanted to get across [today] that this is going to take the spending of some money, to make sure the necessary supports are there."

Mr White explained that there likely won't be a problem with younger children returning to school under the current advice being provided by education and health officials, as class 'bubbles' and 'pods' will be able to be implemented.

However, he suggested: "The problem lies with how we're going to organise from third class to sixth class, where at the moment they're recommending a metre's spacing.

"The former minister Joe McHugh in a previous announcement would have said that means 2.5 days per week, which we don't want to see."

Mr White said funding will be needed to ensure teaching principals in small schools have the necessary relief to manage the new demands.

He noted: "If [teachers] have underlying conditions, we need supports in place to make sure that doesn't effect how the school runs.

"Somebody's health is paramount... we need to be able to put in a substitute teacher to make sure work continues."

The IPPN president told Ivan he understands why they are being 'drip-fed the guidelines', as everything is dependent on how successful the reopening phases are going.

He also stressed that his organisation has never said principals wouldn't return to school buildings in September - insisting they're "looking forward to getting back".

Main image: Pictured leaving the Dáil today is Irish Primary Principals Network, President Damien White. Photo: Leah Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

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