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Education minister has 'every confidence' that schools will reopen as planned

Norma Foley will bring a school reopening plan to Cabinet tomorrow.

Minister for Education Norma Foley.
Minister for Education Norma Foley.
Image: Maxwells/

MINISTER FOR EDUCATION Norma Foley has said that she is confident that a full reopening of schools this year will go ahead as planned. 

Foley said that while there was “ongoing engagement” between her department and public health officials on the matter, she has “every confidence” that all schools will reopen from late August and early September. 

Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Claire Byrne, Foley said that strong mitigation measures would be in place in schools to ensure that they would continue to be “controlled environments”.

She said that Covid-19 infection rates among children are at their highest when children are not at school and public health experts have pointed on “a consistent basis to schools being a very significantly controlled environment”.

The safe running of the Leaving Certificate exams and enhanced summer camps shows that safe operation of education can be maintained, she added. 

A plan is being put in place to allow schools to “draw down” CO2 monitors, and Foley is confident there will be enough monitors for all schools by the start of the new school year.

In relation to vaccines for children, the minister said the “expertise” lies with the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC), from which the department will take guidance.

“I have received confirmation that the 16 to 18-year-old cohort should be in a position for online registration in the coming days, and I have been advised that the 15-year-olds cohort are still being considered by NIAC and there has been no definitive timeline given,” she added. 

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All staff in schools will also have been offered a Covid-19 vaccine by the start of the new school term.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin further echoed Foley’s sentiments today. 

Speaking to media this morning, he said: “We’re fully committed to the schools opening, taking additional precautions to doing that, the vaccine helps enormously on that front, so the schools will be reopening.”

Minister Foley is set to brief Cabinet tomorrow on the measures being put in place to fully reopen schools. 

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