Tuesday 16 October 2018

Schools apply for funding to repair damage

(Stock picture)
(Stock picture)
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

Schools have applied for emergency funding to repair damage done to their buildings by Hurricane Ophelia.

After a two-day closure, up to 4,000 primary and post-primary schools around the country reopen today, although some will remain shut if there is a safety concern, or because of a lack of power or water supply.

As the Ophelia clear-up got underway, the Department of Education gave the OK for schools to reopen, but left the final decision to individual boards of management.

It stated that school authorities "must ensure the safety of those in their care and give due consideration to this when making a decision to reopen".

It also reminded schools of the availability of funding under the Emergency Works Scheme, which provides grants to pay for urgent work.

A spokesperson for Education Minister Richard Bruton confirmed that a "small number" of schools had submitted applications yesterday.

The department has advised if a non State-owned school needed to carry out repairs, it should, in the first instance, contact its insurance providers before seeking emergency funding from the State. Most schools are not owned by the State.

Read More: Blanket closure was a huge burden on parents

For any State-owned buildings, the department said school authorities were free to apply for emergency funding.

The minister's spokesperson also confirmed that schools will have to make up tuition time lost as a result of the Ophelia closure.

This is covered by a circular on the Standardised School Year, which sets out the ways in which lost tuition may be restored.

Schools have a certain flexibility in this regard and may be able to make up for the lost time through abandoning non-tuition activities such as school tours.

Calendar

However, there is also provision for schools to shorten the February mid-term break or the Easter holiday or cancel a day or days off already scheduled in their calendar.

While many areas were relatively unscathed by Ophelia, and the vast majority of schools unaffected, the blanket instruction to close schools yesterday was based on the developing situation on Monday and the need for school authorities to check out their premises yesterday.

National Parents' Council-Primary chief executive Áine Lynch said it was "very hard to disagree with the National Emergency Co-ordination Group, which had all the information".

Irish Independent

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