Reopening schools will be “very challenging”, but the Catholic Primary Schools Management Association (CPSMA) are “absolutely confident” of a returning near full capacity.
All students and staff excepting those in high-risk categories will return in September, according to Seamus Mulconry, general secretary of the CPSMA.
Speaking to The Irish Catholic, he said: “At the primary level, we are looking at full capacity. There will be some schools who will have insufficient space, but we’re urging those to contact the dept as soon as possible.”
Mr Mulconry said the Government’s major investment of €375 million is “welcome assistance” and believes it will help schools significantly.
“It will be very challenging and a lot of it will come down to the commitment and hard work of all staff,” said Mr Mulconry. “But certainly the resources the Government announced today are very welcome.”
Primary schools will have to put certain social distancing measures in place, but this will not be required for younger classes, Mr Mulconry explained.
“For the junior classes, they won’t be social distancing, it’s totally impractical. For the more senior classes, there will be social distancing,” he said. “But most of the distancing will be focused on adults not children, in line with Government advice.”
Schools will be able to apply for a Government procurement package of hand sanitiser and a small amount of PPE in the coming weeks.
Mr Mulconry finished, saying that “opening the schools will be the first challenge – the next challenge will be keeping them open. In that, the schools will be reliant on community action – people need to behave responsibly and observe the Government guidelines.
“The aim is to have a safe and orderly reopening of schools to make sure that everyone is kept safe. And that’s staff and pupils.”