Budget estimates fail to reflect cost of re-opening schools safely - Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has said that serious questions remain over how the safe re-opening of schools will be funded.
Teachta Ó Laoghaire said: “I am concerned that the newly released budget estimates for Education and Skills do not reflect the stark and significant changes in educational circumstances due to Covid-19.
“I recognise the huge efforts of parents, pupils, teachers and all school staff who are committed to ensuring that schools can be re-opened safely.
“However, I am concerned that these efforts are not being matched by necessary government funding and that attempts to re-open schools could be undermined by insufficient financial support.
“The estimates produced by the Government do not reflect the reality that major financial investment is needed for schools. The Government needs to clarify who will pay if there are increased hygiene costs, additional salaries for extra staff, or additional transport costs to allow for more vehicles due to social distancing on school buses.
“I am extremely concerned that if these measures are not properly funded by the Government, schools will feel they have no option but to pass them down to parents.
“Many families were already struggling to cover school costs before the pandemic, but the economic crisis caused by Covid-19 will mean even more families will find their finances extremely stretched. The costs of a full, safe return to school this year must not be left for schools and parents to shoulder alone.
“I am calling on the Government to ensure that funding is provided up front by the Department, and that this is recognised in the budget going forward.”