Thursday, 18 February 2021
Department of Education and Skills
188. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if Tusla has made provision for Tusla education support service, TESS, reporting during Covid-19 specifically for children who must take an absence from school of longer than 20 days due to illness; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9199/21]
Schools are obliged to submit school returns to Tusla Education Support Service (TESS) twice annually, providing information related to all students who have missed 20 or more school days. When submitting these returns schools are asked to outline if such absences are explained or unexplained. Explained absences are generally for reasons such as illness or bereavement. When a student is absent from school due to illness and the parent(s)/guardian(s) provide the school with appropriate information/medical certificates to explain the absences, the school records these absences as explained absences due to illness.
TESS is aware that since March 2020 students may have been absent from school due to Covid-19, either where the student is self-isolating or where the student may have contracted Covid-19. In such cases once the school is informed these absences are recorded as explained absences. TESS is very mindful of the impact Covid-19 has had on many families and the service adopts a child welfare approach to all cases. In all cases referred to TESS staff engage with the student, his/her family and his/her school to put in place a plan that will support the student to return to and remain in school.