By Dominic McGrath, PA
The Minister for Education has said that all schools will have a full supply of carbon dioxide monitors by early October.
Norma Foley, who appeared at the Oireachtas Education Committee on Tuesday, said she was “disappointed” at the delay to the plan to provide every Irish school with a carbon dioxide monitor to measure ventilation levels.
In her opening statement to the committee, she said that 96 per cent of primary schools, including special schools, had received their “full allocation” of carbon dioxide monitors, while every Irish secondary school had received at least 10 carbon dioxide monitors.
Schools... can make arrangements directly for procuring the balance of its CO2 monitors directly themselves
“Lennox Laboratories was on target to have the full amount of 35,000 CO2 monitors delivered to schools by the beginning of next week. Unfortunately, however, Lennox has been informed by the manufacturer that there is a delay with the delivery of the last batch of 10,000 CO2 monitors, due to a fault with the LCD display unit,” the Minister said.
“While I am disappointed at the news of a delay, Lennox Laboratories has identified options that should enable the remaining balance of CO2 monitors to be distributed to schools in late September/early October.
“In the interim, the Department has advised schools that if they wish they can make arrangements directly for procuring the balance of its CO2 monitors directly themselves, rather than via the current arrangements.”
Earlier this month Ms Foley said that her department would do all it could to support principals and teachers, as thousands of pupils were deemed Covid-19 close contacts amid the return of schools.
Ms Foley said: “Throughout the pandemic, the Department of Education has worked intensively with public health professionals from across the health sector and the HSE to support schools. We have been guided by their expertise in all that we have done.”
“In advance of reopening, and indeed since schools have reopened, these experts have reviewed the measures put in place to ensure safe operation of schools and are satisfied that these infection prevention and control measures, when implemented correctly and adhered to, will continue to keep the school community safe.”
She said that further funding had been provided to schools for extra cleaning and hygiene measures, as well as for over 1,000 new teaching jobs to ensure social distancing.
“Funding has also been made available for additional administrative leave days for principals and to provide for substitution arrangements,” she said.
Minister of State for Special Education Josepha Madigan also appeared before the committee.
She said that she would be calling for an increase in the “level of resources available for both teachers and SNAs” in the upcoming autumn Budget.
In her opening statement, the Junior Minister said that “the Government was correct to prioritise special education in the reopening of schools earlier this year”.
She said that over 14,000 pupils used a programme to provide extra tuition and care when schools were closed.