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Lyttle says clarity needed on school funding

Alliance Education spokesperson Chris Lyttle MLA has said clarity is needed on funding allocated to schools as part of the Assembly’s October Monitoring Round.

Mr Lyttle was speaking after the £64 million was given to help schools manage maintenance, COVID-19 pressures and free school meals, among other issues. Education Minister Peter Weir also announced the wearing of face coverings on school buses and public transport will be made mandatory for all post-primary pupils for schools reopening next week.

Assembly Education Committee Chair Mr Lyttle said the highest standards of protections and mitigations must be put in place to allow pupils and staff to return safely.

“COVID-19 is an ongoing public health emergency and one in which our school leaders, pupils and parents have had to deal with while disrupting their lives and putting extra pressures on their schools,” he said.

“While this money is welcome, there needs to be clarity given as to when schools can access it, what they will receive and details given so they can ensure it is spent wisely. A definite plan needs to be outlined by the Minister and Education Authority as to its use.

“Guaranteeing the safety of pupils and staff is also an important aspect of returning to school. As such, the highest standards of protections are needed – mandatory mask-wearing on school and public transport for post-primary pupils is a good start but other mitigations are needed – adequate spacing, plenty of ventilation and staggered drop-off and collection times. I also appeal to parents to exercise common sense while standing outside schools and beside entrance and exit gates.

“Only by working together and following these guidelines, alongside clarity being given on the financial injection, can we make sure the return of schools is a safe one.”