26th March 2020
This morning, the Government has issued schools with updated guidance to help them operate the School Meals Programme amid the extended Covid-19 restrictions, effective Monday 30 March. INTO had this week called for an urgent response to support vulnerable pupils in a letter to the Minister of Education and Skills.
The Department of Education and Skills has said:
This will ensure that vulnerable pupils will continue to get access to this crucial service as schools remain closed until 19April.
The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, the Department of Education and Skills and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs devised updated guidelines for the 1,580 schools and organisations in the programme as they set out to source and supply meals during the extended closures.
Schools are allowed to maintain the service during the Easter holidays and are asked to consider providing weekly boxes of non-perishable, nutritious goods.
Tusla Education Support Service will communicate with all Home School Community Liaison Coordinators and School Completion Programmes and ask staff in those services to liaise with principals where they work to ensure that children/families in need of the School Meals Programme are identified and supported.
Schools have also been advised that if their current provider is unavailable to continue the service they can look at other options, such as a local charity in the community providing food or meals or sourcing supplies from an alternative provider or retailer.
Commenting on the announcement, INTO General Secretary John Boyle said:
INTO welcomes this practical solution which will help to provide some much-needed certainty for our most vulnerable pupils. Our members are deeply concerned about the plight of these pupils and their families at this time.