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Minister seeks to 'reassure parents' that a full reopening of schools is planned

Minister Norma Foley said the return of children to the classroom for the new school term is a priority.

Image: Shutterstock/Sharomka

EDUCATION MINISTER NORMA has confirmed that schools are expected to open fully as normal in September.

In the wake of some media reports this morning, speculating over concerns about the impact rising Covid-19 cases will have on the re-opening of schools, the minister said in a statement this afternoon that she wants to reassure parents that children will be returning in the new term.

She said in a statement that she wishes to”reassure parents and guardians that plans are in place to support the full reopening of schools in time for the start of the new school year at the end of August 2021″.

Foley said it remains a priority of the Department of Education “to support school communities to ensure that this can take place in line with their normal planned reopening times”.

She said that as has been the case throughout the pandemic the reopening will be carried out in close consultation with public health and the education partners.

“The new variants of the disease do not change the infection prevention and control measures required in schools. Public Health advice is that compliance with these measures ensure that schools remain low risk for children and staff. Schools will continue to be supported in terms of the additional resources necessary to provide for these measures,” she said.

The aim of all of the Covid-19 infection prevention and control measures that have been put in place for schools is to support schools to operate safely and prevent the introduction of Covid-19 and also the onward of transmission, she said.

“There is clear evidence from the operation of schools during the past year that schools are low risk environments in terms of the transmission of Covid-19 and that the infection prevention and control measures in place are highly effective in reducing the risk of contracting Covid-19. These measures protect pupils, their parents and school staff,” said the minister.

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“At this point in the pandemic and given the ongoing rollout and impact of the vaccination programme it is imperative that children’s education is prioritised and schools are fully reopened at the start of the academic year and remain open throughout the 2021/22 school year,” her statement concluded.

Foley is to brief Cabinet on Tuesday about additional funding for schools to carry out prevention measures. Ministers will also discuss the financial package that will back the government’s delayed Housing for All plan. Weddings and how many people can attend will also be up for discussion next week.

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