The €376 million support package and roadmap to enable the safe return of schools later next month has been cautiously welcomed by independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice.

However, significant challenges remain to be overcome in the coming weeks before schools reopen, the Roscommon-Galway representative said.

Speaking on the matter, Fitzmaurice said: “The guidance issued by the Department of Education for the safe return of schools in a couple of weeks is a welcome development.

“School principals, teachers, staff and boards of managements can now begin putting effective plans in place to ensure social distancing where possible in classrooms. 

“Given the enormity of the plan, it is inevitable that there may be some teething problems starting out – but these must be overcome in a timely manner.

“The safe reopening of primary and post-primary schools is extremely important in order for society to get back to some form of normality.

“It is also vitally important for the kids themselves, for both their educational needs and their interpersonal skills. They have been deprived of experiencing classroom teaching since mid March.

“And while teachers put in a significant effort to maintain classes via Zoom calls and online tutorials, nothing can substitute from the classroom experience.

“The safe return of schools will also eliminate the troubles faced by countless families who didn’t have access to proper broadband to access these Zoom calls and online tutorials.

“Over the coming weeks, the Minister for Education and her department must continue to support schools in whatever way necessary,” Fitzmaurice concluded.

Michael Fitzmaurice 086-1914565

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