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Thousand extra teachers to be recruited to face Covid challenge

Additional substitute educators, supervision staff, guidance counsellors and psychologists will also be part of a 375 million euro initiative.

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An extra 75 million euros will support preparing buildings and classrooms for reopening (Danny Lawson/PA)

An extra 75 million euros will support preparing buildings and classrooms for reopening (Danny Lawson/PA)

An extra 75 million euros will support preparing buildings and classrooms for reopening (Danny Lawson/PA)

A thousand extra teachers are to be hired to help reduce class sizes in Ireland when schools reopen next month.

Additional substitute educators, supervision staff, guidance counsellors and psychologists will also be part of the 375 million euro initiative to ensure it is safe.

An additional 52 million euros will pay for enhanced cleaning and hygiene measures to reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission, the Government said.

All teaching principals at primary level will receive a minimum of one release day per week to relieve the administrative burden arising from the changes and coronavirus recovery.

An extra 75 million euros will support preparing buildings and classrooms for reopening, including an uplift for those with special educational needs pupils.

A total of 4.2 million euros will enable employment of an aide to implement logistical changes needed in schools – moving furniture, changing classroom layouts, setting up hand sanitising stations and signage.

Education Minister Norma 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.

“These have been informed by the expertise and collaboration of the stakeholders, and truly take account of how schools operate on a day-to-day basis.”

The 1,080 extra teaching posts will be available to post-primaries in recognition of challenges they face around social distancing.

One-metre spacing between post-primary students may require refurbishment of schools, as smaller groups will be taught together.

Younger children will not be expected to socially distance.

At primary level each class will be a bubble and children will be in pods with a metre between the pods.

More than one million students and approximately 100,000 staff will be returning to 4,000 schools at the end of August, in a key priority of the new Government.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin said: “There is simply no substitute for students learning within schools in the presence of their peers and teachers.”

An extra 120 guidance workers will be hired to support student wellbeing.

Face masks will not be essential for staff or students.

Our schools are at the heart of our communities and reopening them is a critical step in recovering from the worst impact of the pandemicMicheal Martin

Mr Martin said reopening represented an unprecedented policy and logistical challenge.

He added: “Our schools are at the heart of our communities and reopening them is a critical step in recovering from the worst impact of the pandemic.

“It is a comprehensive range of measures backed by major new resources.

“Extra staff, extra funding, clear guidance and new supports will help every school adapt to its own needs.”

The National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals said the guidance offered long-awaited clarity.

Director Clive Byrne said: “We look forward to welcoming an additional 1,000 teachers to our schools and will move to recruit these as soon as possible.

“Additional teaching and support staff will allow us to maintain social distancing and public health requirements while we work to maintain a strong standard of education.”

As of midnight on Sunday, the health system has been notified of 11 confirmed cases of Covid-19.

There is now a total of 25,892 confirmed cases in Ireland.

No new deaths have been reported, the National Public Health Emergency Team said.

PA