The Minister for Education has said Ireland has a “significant pool” of teachers ready to step in and help schools reopen next month.
The €375m plan for reopening schools at the end of August includes funding 1,000 new posts at secondary level.
Unions have warned that it will be difficult to fill the posts – warning that the recruitment and retention crisis in Irish schools has not gone away.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning Education Minister Norma Foley said schools looking for staff have a “variety of pools from which they can draw.”
“There are currently 1,300 teachers job-sharing in schools and, for the first time, we will lift the bar on the number of hours job-sharers are entitled to work and they will be offered the opportunity to extend their opening hours,” she said.
“There are, we know, 2,000 post-primary teachers who are currently registered but not working in schools – they will be offered the opportunity to come in.
“We also have teachers who are working on reduced hours who may well choose to extend their hours.
“So, there is a significant pool from which schools can draw and it will be on a case-by-case basis because every school knows best the subject demands that are within their own schools. I have every confidence that job of work is underway at this stage.”
The reopening package includes funding for 120 guidance posts, 600 extra teachers, and 360 posts for the secondary schools having most difficulty reopening.
Substitutes for primary schools will be available form a national panel that is currently being assembled.
Primary school children will be asked to work in 'class bubbles' which stay apart from other classes as much as possible.
Minister Foley said children travelling on school buses will have a designated seat for the year and will be sitting beside a sibling or someone from their class.
“Should there be an incident of a child getting sick – and children will always get sick not necessarily through the coronavirus – but if they are, testing will be carried out, public health will then come in, the contact tracing will be done, whether in relation to the bus or the school environment and all the necessary measures as advised by public health, at that stage, will take place,” she said.
You can listen back to the full interview here: