Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Questions (310)

Paul Murphy

Question:

310. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Education if funding to schools will be increased to ensure full PPE provision, given the need to stop the spread of Covid-19 infection now and into the future and taking account of the concerns of teachers, students and their families regarding the safe functioning and reopening of schools, in particular in special education settings; if she will review the procedures for contact tracing in schools to give schools the deciding role in identifying close contacts of persons who attended with confirmed Covid-19 infection; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2531/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The Government published the Roadmap for the Full Return to School, along with details of a financial package of over €375 million to support the implementation of the measures in the roadmap, following approval by Government.

The range of supports being made available to all schools in the free education scheme include additional financial supports to provide for PPE and hand hygiene costs under the COVID-19 response plans.

Schools are paid the PPE grant by my Department based on pupil enrolment and the per capita rates which are provided in the table attached.

The first instalment of the PPE grant, which issued in August 2020, reflected the fact that the first term was 25% longer than the second and there were a number of once off type costs which schools faced at that time such as the cost of purchasing and installing dispensers, bins etc. Therefore the rates for the second instalment of the PPE grant, which issued on 6th January last, have been revised accordingly.

My Department will be reviewing the funding provided and following this review details of the third and final instalment of these grants for the 2020/2021 school year will be made available in due course.

In terms of what happens when a child attending school tests positive for Covid-19, the HSE will inform the school principal if the child was in the school in the infectious period regardless of consent. In these circumstances the HSE will conduct a Public Health Risk Assessment with the school principal. This is usually undertaken the same day they are notified, but it may be the following day.

Public Health will work with the school principal to identify the close contacts and all close contact will be informed and scheduled for testing and asked to restrict their movements. Parent/guardians will be informed if their child is a close contact.

The wider school community can be informed that the school is working with public health who are guiding the school through the actions they need to take to protect staff, pupils and the school community. It is important to note that the response to confirmed cases or outbreaks of Covid-19 in the community or in a school is the responsibility of, and will be led and managed by, Public Health HSE. All decisions as to appropriate actions following a confirmed case or outbreak will be made by their teams in the context of a full Public Health Risk Assessment procedure.

Primary Rates per pupil

Post Primary Rates

Term 1

Term 2

Term 1

Term 2

Mainstream

€25.00

€15.00

€40.00

€24.00

Special Classes

€100.00

€60.00

€160.00

€96.00