Minister for Health Simon Harris has said the government wants schools open at the start of the school year with all children back, but that it requires a "bespoke solution".

Speaking on RTÉ's The Week In Politics, Mr Harris said it is one that will need to protect everyone. 

"Our plan is this: last Thursday we sent draft public health guidance to the Department of Education. They are going to give their input into that this week and and hopefully over the next week or two the Minister for Education will be in a position to publish plans."

Mr Harris said that, just like with childcare facilities where pods were created, he said measures will also be considered for schools and will be led by public health guidance.

He moved to assure teachers' unions that the Government's plan to reopen schools will be safe for them and the children and will get them back to education in September.

Secondary and primary schools in Ireland have been closed since mid March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Sinn Féin's Matt Carthy said "we know the what, the big question is the how" in terms of getting schools reopened.

He said what concerns him most of all is the Department of Education "has not been adequately consulting" teachers and parents during this process.

Fianna Fáil's Mary Butler echoed that saying "clarity" is what is needed now. She said school transport is another issue that has to be looked at. 

"On a bus where you would normally have 54 pupils they can only take 14 pupils," she said.


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Mr Harris also spoke to The Week In Politics about racism. He said we have to face up to the "realities of racism" in Ireland and the next government must address the issue.

He suggested that in many ways the Covid-19 pandemic has shone a light on structural inequalities in society and "we have to act on that now".

"Two babies born today side by side in a maternity hospital should, from birth, have an equal opportunity at life and that is not the case at the moment in relation to some sectors of society."

Mr Harris said more diversity is needed across all areas, not just in Leinster House but more broadly, in media and commentary. He said there is a huge amount of work to be done.