‘Scandalous lack of support’for schools in Covid crisis

THERE ARE fears some local schools will not be able to afford to keep up with their much-needed social distancing and Covid safety measures due to a lack of funding. 
When the Herald recently spoke to some Fermanagh schools about how they were coping with their reopening in these challenging times, all were doing OK for funding for the time being. However, a number of local principals expressed concern about the lack of financial support from central government, with the costs expected to continue climb in the months ahead.  
While schools, many of which already faced budget challenges even before the pandemic, had been told during the summer that all their spending would eventually be paid back by the Department of Education, there has so far been no further mention of this repayment from the Minister. 
At this month’s meeting of the Council, Cllr Thomas O’Reilly called on the Department to release this funding as soon as possible. 
“There is growing concern in the education sector that promises made by the minister in June to actually provide extra funding for schools to be able to put in place the proper precautions necessary to protect us all against Covid-19, and in particular the pupils and staff in schools, has not yet materialised,” he said. 
“We are facing into a very uncertain future where school budgets are under tremendous strain and we are pushing schools into a position where some schools may not be able to afford all the necessary provisions they would like to have to protect schools.”
Slamming the situation as “scandalous”, Cllr O’Reilly added: “There is a big need, not alone for extra laptops that were supposed to be provided, but also this very much needed underlying money that was supposed to be spent and then reimbursed. At the moment there is certainly no sign of that being reimbursed.”

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