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Over €375m funding announced to help schools reopen at the end of August

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By Michelle Crean

 

Education Minister Norma Foley has this evening announced that schools will reopen at the end of August.

 

The Department is providing capital and current funding of over €375 million to support the safe and sustainable reopening of schools under the Reopening Our Schools - The Roadmap for the Full Return to School’.

The package includes:

  • Plans for an additional 1,080 teaching posts at post-primary level at a cost of €53 million, to include the following measures:

-       120 guidance posts will be provided to support student well-being

-       An initial allocation of over 600 posts to be made available to post-primary schools

-       Remaining posts will be used to support those post-primary schools experiencing particular difficulties to reopen fully and adhere to physical distancing and class sizes.

  • Additional funding, estimated at €84.7 million, so that schools can employ replacement teaching staff, SNA and administrative staff. This can occur where staff members who are identified in line with HSE guidance as at ‘very high risk’ of COVID-19 are advised to cocoon.
  • Additional funding of €41.2 million, to provide primary schools with substitute staff. This will provide more certainty on the availability of substitutes for primary schools and cover substitutions that are not covered by existing schemes, as well as where staff members who display symptoms cannot come to work in the school, in line with public health advice.
  • An estimated additional cost of €40m to provide post-primary schools with additional supervision of students. This will be a key control measure to support schools to minimising interaction of students from different classes, in line with public health advice.
  • An additional €52 million for schools to put in place enhanced cleaning and hygiene measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in schools. This is being provided on a per-pupil basis and is intended to allow an additional four to six hours cleaning per day in schools.
  • Provide all teaching principals at primary level with a minimum of one release day per week to relieve the administrative burden arising from the changes and the impacts of COVID-19 and a new measure to provide deputy principals with some release days, ranging from five days to 16 days depending on the school size, to support administrative principals.
  • A €75 million capital allocation to support schools to prepare their buildings and classrooms for reopening including an uplift for schools with SEN pupils.
  • €4.2 million to enable schools to employ an aide to implement the logistical changes needed in schools – moving furniture, changing classroom layouts, set up hand sanitising stations, signage etc.
  • €3.8m to provide release time for each school to have a lead worker representative, whose role is to support the school to manage the risk of COVID-19 infections.

“This is a comprehensive plan that will support our schools to reopen for the new school year,” Minister Foley said.

“We have worked extremely hard to develop plans that not only provide certainty to schools as to what they need to do, but that are meaningful, practical, and realistic.

“There is a strong emphasis in the roadmap on safety, and on practical arrangements, but also on ensuring the well-being of the students and of the entire staff community. I am deeply conscious that children and young people have had their learning disrupted due to the global pandemic.

“Our schools now face another challenge, to support our students to return to and stay in school safely, to re-engage them and support them to settle in, and progress in their learning.

“I have today written to all members of school staff and to parents, thanking them for the roles they are playing and will continue to play as we return at the end of August. We will continue to communicate with schools and through them with parents and students, as schools return, and keep a close eye to ensure that the supports are working as they should. I am delighted we have been able to secure such a comprehensive package of support, which will ensure that at the end of August we will once again hear the joy and laughter of children and young people in our schools.”

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Muckross Rowing Club members on Irish teams for two major regattas

  Six members of Muckross Rowing Club will compete for Ireland in two upcoming international events. Rowing Ireland this week announced the Irish squads for the Coupe de la Jeunesse […]

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Six members of Muckross Rowing Club will compete for Ireland in two upcoming international events.

Rowing Ireland this week announced the Irish squads for the Coupe de la Jeunesse Regatta.

Daniel Fleming and Ian Coffey have both been selected for the Under 19 Irish squad to race at the Coupe de la Jeunesse Regatta for European junior rowers. The Coupe de la Jeunesse Regatta, involving 16 European countries, will be held over from over three days, August 9-11 in Racice, Czechia.

Four Under 23 university rowers from the Muckross club have also been selected as part of the Senior Irish squad for the Home International Regatta this month.

Niamh Coffey (University of Limerick), Patrick Buckley (University of Limerick), Finn O’Sullivan (University of Limerick) and Ethan O’Neill (University College Cork Rowing Club) will take on the ‘Triple Crown’ event of rowing, competing for Ireland against crews from England, Scotland and Wales.

The Home International Regatta will be held on Saturday, July 27 in Strathclyde, Scotland.

All six Muckross rowers have earned their green jerseys following a lengthy and testing trial series on land and water which began in Autumn 2023 and culminated in final water trials at the end of June.

“Muckross Rowing Club sends its best wishes to the very talented Muckross oarsmen and women and all their crewmates as they fly the flag for Ireland this summer. The talented group build on a successful record in the sport,” said club PRO Tim O’Shea.

Niamh Coffey is a multiple Irish and University Championship winner and has previously represented Ireland in the Under 23 European Championships.

In 2022, O’Neill rowed at Junior level at the Home International event and won a gold medal as part of the Irish quadruple scull crew in the 500m sprint event.

Both Buckley and O’Sullivan continue to compete at the highest level nationally with the University of Limerick Rowing Club,  and join the Irish squad for the first time this year.

The international selections come at an exciting time before the Olympic Regatta in Paris, where Zoe Hyde (Tralee Rowing Club) will be among the largest Irish rowing contingent of 16 rowers to contest an Olympic Games.

Killorglin native Zoe has previously rowed for both Killorglin and Muckross rowing clubs and will race the Women’s Double event for Ireland with Alison Bergin (Fermoy Rowing Club) in Paris.

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Valuable role of Kerry cancer support charity recognised nationally

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Cancer support charity Recovery Haven Kerry has been recognised for its vital role in supporting cancer patients and their families at a national ceremony in Dublin.

The renowned cancer support house was one of 16 such centres across Ireland that were presented with plaques to acknowledge their full membership of the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) Alliance – a group made up of voluntary and charity organisations delivering support services directly to cancer patients and their families. An additional 10 associate member charities were also honoured, including Kerry Cancer Support Group.

The Alliance advocates for, and supports, the development of integrated pathways between the cancer centres, acute hospitals, community cancer support services and primary care services. All members’ development is in line with the values of Sláintecare, seeking to provide assurance to healthcare professionals that these organisations are working to an agreed standard as set out in Best Practice Guidance published by the NCCP. 

Speaking after the ceremony, which was held at Dublin’s Farmleigh Estate, Recovery Haven Kerry Chairman, Tim McSwiney, explained that being compliant with the Best Practice Guidance for Community Cancer Support Centres is a true mark of quality. 

“It offers us a yardstick to measure what we are doing against the standards required. As a result, healthcare professionals have more confidence in referring people to our services. We are very proud to be a member of the Alliance,” he said.

Recovery Haven Kerry was represented at the event by centre manager, Gemma Fort and Client Services Co-Ordinator, Siobhan MacSweeney and were presented with their plaque by NCCP Lead for Cancer Survivorship, Louise Mullen, Clinical Lead for Psycho-Oncology Dr Helen Greally, and Minister of State at the Department of Health, Colm Burke. 

The event was also used as an opportunity to announce funding of €3m for the NCCP’s Alliance of Community Cancer Support Centres and Services through Budget 2024. The NCCP is currently in the process of distributing these funds which will directly and positively impact the delivery of services for patients and families nationally.

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