Center on International Education Benchmarking

1. Ireland Approves Fund to Support Opening All Schools By August

The Irish government confirmed a plan to provide €375 million (US$442 million) in funding to fully reopen schools before the end of August. The funding will go toward an additional 1,000 post-primary teachers and 120 counseling positions to provide more support for students. To allow for social distancing, the plan includes specific funding to build more spaces for student learning and reorganize current classroom environments. Social distancing measures will not apply to students in the first four years of primary schools. The two largest teacher unions in Ireland, INTO and ASTI, support the plan but have raised issues about whether the funding is sufficient for the full year and to support additional substitute teachers if needed.  Read more about Ireland’s reopening plan here

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2. British Columbia Plans to Open School For All Students in September

British Columbia Education Minister Rob Fleming
British Columbia Education Minister Rob Fleming

Education Minister Rob Fleming announced that schools in British Columbia will open for all students in September. Students will be assigned “learning groups” of up to 60 students at the elementary and middle school level and up to 120 students at the secondary school level. The groups are intended to limit the number of students each individual interacts with to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Students in learning groups will be allowed to interact with each other outside of classrooms and will be encouraged but not required to wear masks. The government is investing CAN$45.6 million (US$34 million) in safety measures.. BC Teachers Federation President Teri Mooring says the plan “needs more time and a lot more work.”  Mooring added that while she agrees that students need to get back to school, teachers and staff need time in September to adjust to the new structures and that the opening should be in stages.   

3. Singapore Schools Resume Lower-Risk Extracurricular Activities

The Singapore Ministry of Education (MOE) announced that secondary schools and junior colleges will have the option to resume lower-risk extracurricular activities, with appropriate safety measures in place. These after-school activities–known as co-curricular activities (CCA)–were halted at the start of the pandemic. Singapore has national standards for CCA and they are understood as a key component of students’ holistic education, by allowing students to explore interests and talents through clubs, sports, and visual and performing arts. CCA are voluntary at the primary school level but secondary students are required to participate in at least one CCA, with choices varying by school. As CCA gradually resume, each school can decide which activities to allow, although some like high-contact sports and instrumental and choir groups remain suspended. The MOE will monitor the rollout at the secondary level before resuming CCA for primary school students. Read the government announcement here.

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4. England: School Funding Boost to Help Alleviate Coronavirus Learning Gaps

EnglandStudent

England’s government has allocated £1 billion (US$1.31 billion) in extra funding for the next school year to help alleviate learning gaps caused by school closures during coronavirus. The funding includes £350 million (US$457 million) earmarked for a new National Tutoring Program (NTP) aimed at helping students who have fallen behind during school closures. The NPT will allow public primary and secondary schools to receive heavily subsidised tutoring from the program’s approved list of partners. The funding package also includes £650 million (US$849 million) which will go directly to schools, though details as to how that money must be spent have not been revealed as yet. School leaders said the final details of the funding to be spent in the 2020-21 academic year would determine how they could use the extra resources, but many were enthusiastic if schools were given latitude on how to best spend the money. Read more at the Guardian.

Read more about how education systems around the world have responded the challenges of school closures and distance learning during the coronavirus pandemic in our archives for June–July or April–May.