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'Clarity takes time': Education Minister responds to criticism over schools plan

A plan for the full reopening of schools will be revealed on Monday.

Image: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

THE EDUCATION MINISTER has responded to criticism over the lack of clarity in relation to the plan to reopen schools for primary and secondary students.

Opposition TDs in the Dáil yesterday expressed concern that parents, students and schools had been ‘left in the dark’ about how the reopening will work. 

Sinn Fein’s Pearse Doherty said: “We’re just over four weeks from the traditional date of reopening schools, and as it stands schools don’t know what’s happening.”

Labour leader Alan Kelly said he was “not confident” schools would reopen and criticised Education Minister Norma Foley for failing to take questions on the matter in the Dáil. 

Today Minister Foley has said the plan required engagement with those working in the sector and time to address the various challenges involved. She will announce the plan on Monday. 

Foley was speaking after a meeting with Taoiseach Micheál Martin to discuss the plan for the re-opening of schools at the end of next month.

Martin described the plan as “very detailed” and “comprehensive” but said he did not want to give specifics until the full plan is unveiled next week.

Full reopening

Minister Foley said the objective is a full reopening of schools with all students and teachers back on campus, aside from exceptional cases where there are people in high risk categories, who she said would be catered for.

She also said there will be a “comprehensive financial package” in place and provision for additional teachers, where required.

When asked about criticisms of her department over the lack of clarity provided up until this point about how the re-opening will be managed, Foley said:

“Clarity takes time. As I’ve already pointed out to you there are a variety of partners in education and, to their credit, I want to say that they have brought to the table the issues and the challenges, but they have also brought to the table immense wisdom and expertise. Relying on that and recognising the challenges, we have worked together to find solutions.”

Foley said she believes in “doing the work” and in engagement with those working in the sector.

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“That’s a philosophy I would be happy to be judged on,” she added.

“We’re doing the work, much of this is unseen I will admit in the last number of weeks, perhaps unheralded. But I do believe on Monday when we produce the document that needs to be produced, when we produce the roadmap for the future of education it will not be unappreciated.”

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