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“Reopening schools is good for all concerned” – says Education Minister

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“There’s a huge body of work to be done by schools before they reopen next month,” the newly appointed Minister for Education said when she spoke exclusively to the Killarney Advertiser this week.

By Michelle Crean

Norma Foley, TD, who is currently head of one of the busiest Government departments, this week announced a €376 million fund for the ‘Reopening Our Schools – The Roadmap for the Full Return to School’ to help schools navigate the complexities of reopening next month following the abrupt shutdown in March.

And as schools get to grips with the new guidelines and begin to implement the necessary changes to safely bring children back into education, she said that there’s “a shared objective to fully reopen schools”.

Guidelines include children in primary and secondary schools being placed in ‘bubbles’ and pods meaning they’ll be placed in smaller groups and have to stay within this to minimise any potential spread of the virus, cleaning budgets have been approved as well as the addition of 1,080 additional teachers and 120 Guidance Counsellors.

“The funding has been broadly welcomed,” Minister Foley told the Killarney Advertiser.

“There’s a huge body of work to be done and all funding supports are available to schools.”

FUNDING

On Monday evening, the Department of Education announced that it is providing capital and current funding of over €376 million to support the safe and sustainable reopening of schools.

The package includes an additional 1,080 teaching posts at post-primary level at a cost of €53 million, to include 120 guidance posts to support student well-being, an initial allocation of over 600 posts to be made available to post-primary schools and remaining posts will be used to support post-primary schools experiencing particular difficulties to reopen fully and adhere to physical distancing and class sizes.

Additional funding of an estimated €84.7 million has been given so schools can employ replacement teaching staff, SNA and administrative staff. Funding of €41.2 million to provide primary schools with substitute staff, €40m to provide post-primary schools with additional supervision of students, 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 is being provided on a per-pupil basis and is intended to allow an additional four to six hours cleaning per day in schools.

The fund will also 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, 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 has been given to support schools to prepare buildings and classrooms for reopening, €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., and €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.

COMPREHENSIVE PLAN

The Minister said it is a comprehensive plan for the year ahead which she has worked on with the relevant stakeholders from parents to students, principals, teachers, SNAs and boards of management.

“It’s so important that all are included. There’s a shared objective that the schools will fully reopen and this was discussed. There’s a short window of everything that needs to be done.“

And, she added that there’s a particular emphasis being placed on well-being for the coming year.

“There’s a very definite curriculum being advised for individual responsibility, class responsibility, and whole school responses for students.“

She added that she’s “honoured to be in a position to make a contribution” to the safe return for students and staff across the country but emphasised that “it’s a team effort”.

“Wider society wants to see the schools reopen for the children and young people that there would a be a safe return. It’s good for all concerned. The goodwill and the finance is there for it.”

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Picture This announce Killarney gigs

Following on from being the fastest act ever to sell out the Gleneagle INEC Arena, with tickets going in under five minutes, Picture This have announced their only Irish shows of 2021 with a three-night run at the Killarney venue on December 16 -18. These exclusive gigs coincide with the release of their brand-new album […]

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Following on from being the fastest act ever to sell out the Gleneagle INEC Arena, with tickets going in under five minutes, Picture This have announced their only Irish shows of 2021 with a three-night run at the Killarney venue on December 16 -18.

These exclusive gigs coincide with the release of their brand-new album ‘Life in Colour’ set to be released June 25 via Republic Records.

“We are so excited to be playing at the INEC Arena this December,” Picture This frontman, Ryan Hennessy said.

“It is a place that holds many fond memories for us from starting out in the Acoustic Club to selling out the arena in record time. We have missed the atmosphere and the people so much and can’t wait to be reunited!”

Representing music’s biggest global underdog story, Picture This have unassumingly captivated listeners in every corner of the world, amassing nearly 300 million total streams, selling out stadiums, and inspiring praise from Billboard, ThisSongIsSick, and many more.

Their new album ‘Life in Colour’ boasts hits such as ‘Things Are Different’, ‘LA House Party’ and ‘Unconditional’. Thus far, tracks from the record have already gathered over 25 million total streams and counting prior to its arrival.

Tickets from €49.90 plus booking fees for these exclusive shows go on sale this Friday at 9am www.inec.ie and www.ticketmaster.ie.

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Renowned chef to host men’s charity cookery demo

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To celebrate International Men’s Health Week, cancer support charity Recovery Haven Kerry has organised a live cookery demonstration with renowned chef, Mark Doe.

It takes place on Tuesday next, June 15.

Open to all men dealing with cancer, the free Zoom cook-along event will take place from 6.30pm to 7.30pm, where the famous Just Cooking cookery school founder will share some of his expertise with participants.

Mark has chosen a simple marinated chicken in pitta bread with wedges and coleslaw as his dish of choice for the evening, and will be taking participants through the steps to create their very own meal via this live cook-along event.

“We wanted to do something special to mark International Men’s Health Week and we are honoured that Mark has agreed to come on board to host this exciting event,” Recovery Haven manager Siobhan MacSweeney said.

“The free event is open to all men who are dealing with cancer, not just our own clients, so we are encouraging as many men as possible to sign up for what promises to be a great, fun evening.”

Anyone interested in taking part is required to register in advance by phoning Recovery Haven Kerry on 066 7192122.

Once registered you will receive a Zoom link to join the cook-along on the evening as well as the list of ingredients you will need.

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Loss of Kerry to Dublin route a “severe blow” 

  Ths loss of the Stobart Air Kerry to Dublin routes – which was announced yesterday (Sunday) that it’s to cease trading with immediate effect – will have a serious impact on the county, in particular the tourism and hospitality industry. Kerry Tourism Industry Federation (KTIF) is urgently requesting the Government act quickly on the collapse of the […]

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Ths loss of the Stobart Air Kerry to Dublin routes – which was announced yesterday (Sunday) that it’s to cease trading with immediate effect – will have a serious impact on the county, in particular the tourism and hospitality industry.

Kerry Tourism Industry Federation (KTIF) is urgently requesting the Government act quickly on the collapse of the airline and appoint a replacement.

The tourism group said that the loss of the routes is “such a severe blow to an industry that has been the most impacted by COVID for over 15 months and will take years to recover”.
 
Passengers affected are advised not to travel to the airport and to check the Aer Lingus website for updated information.

The Department of Transport is currently examining the implications of the announcement while Kerry County Council said it has full confidence in the future of Kerry Airport and will work closely with airport management to ensure the quick restoration of this key route and the future development of further air traffic routes into the county.

Minister for Education and Kerry TD Norma Foley said that she was “saddened to hear the announcement”.

“I have spoken directly on the issue with Kerry Airport and Minister Eamon Ryan and officials regarding the importance of the restoration of services, including the Dublin/Kerry route which is vital to the region. We are all committed to finding a pathway forward for the restoration of connectivity as a matter of urgency.”

The Government is acutely aware of the devastating impact that COVID-19 restrictions are having on the aviation sector.

By the end of June, the sector will have received approx. €300 million in State funding spanning employment supports, waiver of commercial rates and deferral of taxes. The bulk of the support to airlines is through the TWSS/EWSS wage subsidy schemes which were specifically designed to maintain the link between employers and employees. Liquidity support has also been made available by ISIF to large aviation enterprises.

This is in addition to PSO support of approximately €7 million per annum for the affected routes.

LIFEBLOOD

Tourism in Kerry generates €661 million annually, employing some 14,000 people. COVID-19 has forced 82% out of the workforce into unemployment. Tourism supply and support businesses have also been severely affected with thousands of employees out of work and companies struggling to survive.

“Connectivity and transport is the lifeblood to rebuilding tourism,” Pat O’Leary, Chairman of KTIF said. “The tourism and aviation sector is critical to the economy and viability of life in Kerry, it impacts on every household. It was the first industry to feel the economic devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic and the last to recover. The Government can save vital tourism and businesses connectivity by moving swiftly and confidently appointing a replacement to service these crucial routes. Our thoughts are with the employees at Stobart Air, our colleagues in Kerry Airport and the tourism and aviation industry who are all working so hard on recovery and reopening plans.”

Killarney Chamber of Tourism and Commerce said that Stobart operated the Kerry-Dublin service with great professionalism and customer care was always a priority, and that they wish them well as the face a very difficult time.

“Killarney Chamber won’t be found wanting in its commitment to support Kerry Airport and we have every confidence that John Mulhern and his team possess the ability, the knowledge and the determination to bring about the restoration of the service,” Niall Kelleher, President, Killarney Chamber of Tourism and Commerce, said. 

“Going forward, Kerry Airport will be critical to reopening the Kerry economy and we must all work to build on any opportunities that arise to provide greater access into the county. Killarney Chamber of Tourism and Commerce is fully committed to help find a pathway forward for the restoration of connectivity.”

 

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