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Taoiseach says junior and senior infants are likely to return to school from 1 March

The Taoiseach made the remarks at a Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting.

Image: RollingNews.ie

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN has said that 1 March is the likely date that the phased return to education will begin, starting with junior and senior infants as well as Leaving Cert students.

Martin made the announcement at a Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting this evening, after Minister Norma Foley confirmed plans for this years Leaving Cert.

It’s understood that at primary school level, junior and senior infants will be the priority, with first-class also under consideration.

For post-primary, Leaving Cert and fifth-year students will likely return first, with other years returning throughout March.

The current aim is for full days, but with strict guidelines to be followed by students and teachers, including bubbles in school, and when travelling to and from school.

The Cabinet sub-committee on Covid will meet tomorrow and is expected to meet with public health officials to discuss the reopening of schools.

The Taoiseach told the meeting that the UK variant now makes up 90% of all cases of Covid-19 in Ireland and that public health officials are concerned about the impact it might have when the phased reopening begins.

Due to this, it’s understood that there will be evaluations and the prevalence of the disease within the community will be closely monitored.

Restrictions

The Taoiseach also said that there would likely be a significant period of ongoing restrictions in March and April.

Separately, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said that while a decision hasn’t been made, he expects the easing of restrictions next month to be extremely limited.

It comes as public health officials today confirmed an additional 650 new cases of Covid-19 and 57 deaths of people with the virus.

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Speaking at the Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting this evening, Varadkar said the Covid numbers were falling but not as fast as they were, and that the country was still above the peak of the first wave.

It’s understood that Varadkar also acknowledged that there was a need for additional information and communication for those who are in line for vaccines and that it would be put in place.

The Tánaiste also informed the meeting that all over 85′s would receive their vaccinations over the coming weeks.

However, he said that the administration of the vaccine is entirely dependant on the supply and that Ireland expects to receive one million doses each month in April, May and June.

At the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting, Martin told his party that the National Immunisation Advisory Council would be reviewing the vaccine priority list and that the report may be available this evening.

Reporting by Christina Finn

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