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Government to unveil plan to reopen schools in August

A planning document will be brought to the Cabinet by Education Minister Norma Foley.

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Schools have been closed since March due to the coronavirus pandemic (Brian Lawless/PA)

Schools have been closed since March due to the coronavirus pandemic (Brian Lawless/PA)

Schools have been closed since March due to the coronavirus pandemic (Brian Lawless/PA)

The Government is expected to outline plans later on Monday to reopen all schools across the country at the end of August.

A planning document from the Department of Education will be brought to the Cabinet by Education Minister Norma Foley to be signed off on Monday afternoon.

Targeted supports for students with special needs are also expected to be included in the planned 300 million euro package.

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Minister for Education Norma Foley (Niall Carson/PA)

Minister for Education Norma Foley (Niall Carson/PA)

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Minister for Education Norma Foley (Niall Carson/PA)

The plan will include additional teachers and special needs assistants, personal protective equipment and stepped-up cleaning regimes.

Lunch breaks and school start time may be staggered, while the wearing of face coverings are not expected to be compulsory in classes.

Primary school pupils will also be sectioned off into “pods” of between four and six children.

Older children will be expected to social distance but younger children will not.

All schools have been closed since March 12 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The plan is very, very detailed and I’m happy that we worked it through and that people will return orderly and safelyJohn Boyle, INTO general secretary

General secretary of the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) John Boyle said a lot of work remains in getting the schools reopened within a few weeks.

“There’s a lot of work ahead for the next five weeks. The plan is very, very detailed and I’m happy that we worked it through and that people will return orderly and safely,” he told RTE Morning Ireland.

Mr Boyle said he is concerned about the amount of resources schools will get and said schools could potentially run out of money.

He has suggested that the Government should review the funding package at the end of September.

“It’s really important that the money that comes in today is reviewed at the end of September and if there’s a budget in October that we have a look at it to make sure that schools will stay open every single day from now until June next year,” he said.

No new deaths related to Covid-19 in Ireland were reported on Sunday while a further 12 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed.

There has now been a total of 1,764 Covid-19-related deaths in Ireland.

The number of confirmed cases is 25,881.

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