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Schools to reopen for students with special needs from 21 January

The ‘staggered’ return is to begin from 21 January.

Education Minister Norma Foley.
Education Minister Norma Foley.
Image: Oireachtas.ie

THE GOVERNMENT HAS said there is a commitment that school classes for children with special needs are begin returning from next Thursday 21 January. 

The move comes following talks between unions and Education Minister Norma Foley today and the ongoing closure of the education sector. 

Groups representing some 30,00 children had said earlier this week that remote teaching is not an option for many children with special needs. 

Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon, Minister of State with responsibility for Special Education Josepha Madigan said the plan is now for students in special schools and for primary school special classes to return next week. 

“There is very good new after our discussions with the unions this morning, from next Thursday 21 January all special schools and special classes in primary schools and children with SEN in mainstream classes, there is a shared commitment that we will reopen those classes from next Thursday,” Madigan said. 

The junior minister added that there are “logistical issues” that remain to be sorted but that thanks needed to be extended to education partners for their work.

In a statement, Foley said that work is being undertaken to resolve these issues. The minister said that a “one-size-fits-all approach” does not exist in relation to education. 

“We are working together towards a phased return for children in special schools and a return to school for those in special classes in primary schools and children with significant additional needs in mainstream classes beginning on 21 January,” she said. 

During this lead into a phased commencement of in-school services at primary level, we are working in parallel with post-primary stakeholders to address their concerns and recognising that post-primary schools present different logistical challenges if a partial return is to be possible.

“I very much hope that we can work together to set out a pathway for the return of all children at all levels of schooling at the start of February, subject of course to government and public health consideration of what constitutes the safe movement of people at that point. “

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Rónán Duffy

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