I wish to advise the Deputy that decisions in relation to schools re-opening and operating will be underpinned by the ongoing advice of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) and the Department of Health.
Engagement is underway with stakeholders in the education sector to develop contingency plans for the re-opening and operation of schools, including schools for children with Autism, in an environment that may require social distancing and other public health requirements.
This work will be informed by the National Return to Work Safely Protocol as well as guidance and experience from other jurisdictions. A core objective of the contingency plans will be to ensure that schools and other education settings can re-open and operate in a safe manner that is consistent with public health advice.
In relation to the reopening of early learning and care and school-age childcare services my colleague, Dr. Katherine Zappone, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, has established an Advisory Group on Reopening Early Learning and Care and School-Age Childcare services.
Amongst other roles, the Group will be developing guidelines to support providers, their staff, parents and children return to familiar, albeit different, environments, in a phased manner over the coming months.
As the first step to prepare to re-open childcare services, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) is encouraging service providers to review the Return to Work Safely Protocol, published by Government this week, but to be aware that assistance will be made available to them in the coming weeks to meet its requirements.
Various childcare specific guidance cleared by Public Health experts will be issued to services by DCYA over the coming weeks. DCYA is also planning an opportunity for public consultation.
In the interim, funding for the provision of Home Tuition services will continue to be provided where tuition is delivered by distance learning.