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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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Weird and wonderful insurance policies

As it is January I thought I would start the year on a light hearted note. Lloyds of London is an insurance marketplace founded in a London coffee shop over 300 years ago. Today it is the world’s leading market for specialist insurance, from large maritime risks to space satellites. Here are some of the […]

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As it is January I thought I would start the year on a light hearted note.

Lloyds of London is an insurance marketplace founded in a London coffee shop over 300 years ago. Today it is the world’s leading market for specialist insurance, from large maritime risks to space satellites.

Here are some of the more interesting and obscure insurance policies put in place over the years.
· David Beckham insured his legs with Lloyds for £100m in 2006

· Dolly Parton has insured her 40dd breasts for £3.8m

· Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards hands are insured for $1.6m

· Michael Flatleys legs were insured for $47 Million. The policy was only in effect when he was touring and forbade him from dancing except on stage.

· James Dean took out a life policy for $100,000 just a week before his tragic death at the age of 25

· The actor Richard Burton purchased a 69.42 carat diamond from Cartier for $1.1 Million in 1969 as a gift for Elizabeth Taylor. It was the world’s most expensive diamond at the time. Once Lloyds had insured the diamond they specified that Taylor should wear it in public for only 30 days a year and even then be protected by security guards. The diamond was sold in 1978 for an estimated $5 Million which would equate to roughly $19 Million today.

· According to novelist and inventor Arthur C Clarke, director Stanley Kubrick wanted to take out insurance with Lloyds to protect himself against losses in the event that extra-terrestrial intelligence was discovered before his movie, ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ was released. Lloyds refused to quote for this one.

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Kerry to feature in new TG4 documentary on Wild Atlantic Way

Three episodes of a new ten-part TG4 series on the Wild Atlantic Way were filmed in County Kerry. The series, which started last Wednesday night this week, and continues every Wednesday for the next nine weeks, follows the Wild Atlantic Way from Donegal to Kerry. In this series ‘An Cósta Thiar’, presenter Áine Ní Bhreisleáin gains […]

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Three episodes of a new ten-part TG4 series on the Wild Atlantic Way were filmed in County Kerry.

The series, which started last Wednesday night this week, and continues every Wednesday for the next nine weeks, follows the Wild Atlantic Way from Donegal to Kerry.

In this series ‘An Cósta Thiar’, presenter Áine Ní Bhreisleáin gains an insight into the culture, challenges and benefits of living by the Atlantic and to find out if seawater still flows through the veins of its coastal communities.

On her travels, Áine will meet with the people of the coast, both young and old. She will spend time in the company of people who live and work by the sea, learning more about the attraction of these areas, and this life, through their eyes, stories and experiences. She will meet those communities and people who have a strong affinity with the coast and the sea, through new businesses, traditional livelihoods, recreational activities, ecology, birdwatching, eco-tours, swimming, boats (of all kinds) and more.

Áine began her journey at home in Gaoth Dobhair and heads to the wilds of Árainn Mhóir on the second leg of journey.
The third show platforms south Donegal while in week 4, Áine heads to the beautiful Achill Island.

Half way through her journey from Donegal to Kerry, Áine is in Carna in Conamara while in the the sixth programme, Áine continues her journey on the Galway coast, this time in Cois Fharraige

Áine visits Inis Oírr in the seventh programme, the smallest of the three Oileán Árainn, to explore how life has changed for islanders in recent generations through fishing, farming, tourism and sport.

In programme eight, Áine continues her journey, heading for the West Kerry coastline this time around, rowing with a local musician, Breanndán Ó Beaglaoich, a boatbuilder Eddie Hutch and even All-Ireland champions in Cumann Rámhaíochta an Daingin. She investigates the attraction of sea swimming for local women with local group ‘Snámh for the Soul’ goes foraging and paddleboarding with a woman who lives and breathes the sea and all it has to offer, Susan Feirtéar.

In the penultimate programme, Áine continues on her journey around the Corca Dhuibhne coast, exploring the history of trade in An Daingean with Brenda Uí Shúilleabháin and how the coast inspires artists with the talented Tomáisín Ó Cíobháin. She takes a class with local yoga instructor, Ails Ní Chonchúir and heads out to sea with local guide, Eoghan Ó Slatara, to learn about the islands on the west Kerry coast and she tastes some local seafood but she has to cook it first at the Dingle Cookery School.

Áine ends her journey in Uíbh Ráthach, in South Kerry. She gains a different perspective on the sea while snorkling with Gráinne Ní Ailín from Sea Synergy and surfing with Cian O’Connor, explores the long history of this coastal community from the time of the Milesians with poet and historian, Paddy Bushe, and learns about the Seine boat with a local TikToker, Séaghan Ó Suilleabháin, better known as The Kerry Cowboy, and is there a better way to finish her journey than a first visit to the majestic Sceilg islands?

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