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Children with special education needs return to 124 special schools today

Around 4,000 students will be attending special schools per day from today.

Image: Shutterstock/Vyaseleva Elena

STUDENTS WITH SPECIAL educational needs will be the first to return to school buildings this year, as special schools reopen today at a reduced capacity.

The return to school buildings is the result of ongoing talks between the Department of Education, teachers’ unions, and other stakeholders about how to continue education.

The Department of Education said that there are 124 special schools reopening today at 50% capacity, catering for a total of 8,224 students and 3,882 teachers and SNAs.

On Monday 22 February, special classes in mainstream schools, including thousands of primary and post-primary schools, will reopen for students.

There are 1,231 special classes in primary schools catering for 7,520 students. These are supported by 3,819 teachers and SNAs.

There are 515 special classes at post-primary schools catering for 2,808 students. These are supported by 1,739 teachers and SNAs.

The Department of Education said in a statement last night that “intensive engagement” is continuing with education stakeholders, towards a full return of all students to in-person teaching and learning in primary and post primary schools “as soon as possible”.

Minister for Education Norma Foley said: “I am pleased that students in special classes at post-primary level will now return to in-person teaching and learning on the same day as primary school students in special classes.

“These special classes support some of our most vulnerable students. The return to in-person teaching and learning is vital to these students and I want to thank everyone who has engaged in this process to reach a solution which is aimed at meeting their needs

The Leaving Cert

Last night, the Teachers’ Union of Ireland said last night that it will facilitate the return of Leaving Certificate students from some point in the same week, subject to public health advice.  

The Government has said that it plans to give Leaving Cert students a choice between being assessed through Calculated Grades or a ‘traditional’ written exam.

It is anticipated that Level 5 restrictions will not be lifted on 5 March, with additional easing unlikely to take place until May.

The Government is prioritising the return of all students to school buildings and reopening construction, from 5 March when the current restrictions are due to end.

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