Reopening schools "will be difficult" - Norma Foley 4 months ago

Reopening schools "will be difficult" - Norma Foley

"Schools will do all that they can to ensure the maximum number of children are in school."

Norma Foley has said that reopening schools will be difficult, but that schools will ensure that the maximum number of children will be able to attend in-person classes.

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The Minister for Education made the comments during an interview on RTÉ's Morning Ireland on Wednesday (5 January).

"I will be the first to admit, and I engage on an ongoing basis with schools on the ground, I have visited a number of schools, I speak with school personnel every single day, and I know how difficult it is, and I know it has been difficult up to this point and will be even more difficult in the coming weeks, and difficult decisions will be made," she said.

"But the decisions will be made to ensure that the maximum number of children are in school, and where it's not possible, we're asking that they invoke the priority, hierarchy if you like, for a short period of time if that's necessary.

"Schools will do all that they can to ensure the maximum number of children are in school."

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Foley had no guarantee for when teachers would receive medical grade face masks, despite the Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO) publishing that the government had agreed on providing teachers with medical grade face masks.

"Public Health have told us that they are satisfied with the mitigation measures that are in place in our schools, but specifically the unions have raised the issues and the type of face mask that would be used, so Public Health did give an undertaking yesterday to review that," she said.

"I want to be very clear: if Public Health come back with a recommendation of a new type of mask is required, then we will absolutely implement it and support it," she added.

Foley also said that there were no current plans to change the contact tracing system in primary schools without recommendation from Public Health, and that principals would need to inform parents if their child is a potential close contact.

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Schools are set to reopen on Thursday, and Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan has said it is "inevitable" that children will contract Covid-19 in the coming days and weeks.

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