Thursday, 18 February 2021
Department of Education and Skills
190. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills when it is planned to reopen the special schools that opened partially on 11 February 2021 on a full-time basis, given that many studies show that children in these settings are not significant spreaders of Covid-19; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9244/21]
The Government has always been guided by public health advice in relation to what is safe in schools. NPHET remain of the view that schools are low risk environments but recognise there is a need to reduce societal activity and movement to curb the spread of the virus at this time.
My Department has agreed a plan with the relevant education stakeholders for the phased return to in-person learning for children in special schools and children in special classes in mainstream schools. This phased reopening commenced last Thursday 11th February with children in special schools returning on a 50 per cent minimum shared basis from that date. From Monday 22 February pupils and students in special classes will also return to school.
A supplementary in-person care and educational support programme to support the education and/or care needs of pupils and students with complex needs is also available to families for four weeks from 11 February at primary and 22 February at post primary.
The full re-opening of our schools for all students remains a top priority for Government and my Department is focussing on the safe return of all pupils and students to school on a phased basis beginning in March.