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Covid-19 Pandemic

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 23 June 2020

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Questions (113)

Réada Cronin

Question:

113. Deputy Réada Cronin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide guidance to July provision providers as to the way in which they will enforce social distancing; the potential consequences for students with intellectual disabilities who do not understand the rationale for social distancing and breach the two metre guidelines; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11666/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

My Department has published details of a summer programme for children with special educational needs enrolled in special schools, special classes and mainstream classes. The programme incorporates some aspects of the July Provision of previous years.

Summer Provision 2020 – Reconnecting with Education, is a significantly expanded programme for children with complex special educational needs which aims to re-establish the child’s relationships and connection with school and their peers as a basis for learning and participation and to help the child to re-engage in learning and social activities and help them adapt to new routines and changes. The programme aims to ensure, in so far as possible, that the child can reintegrate/transition into their planned education setting for the next school year with their peers. In-school or home-based supports by teachers and SNAs will help to prevent regression among children with special needs.

The eligibility criteria has been widened to include the following categories of children:

1. Pupils with a diagnosis of Autism

2. Pupils with severe and profound learning difficulties

3. Any child in a special class or special school

4. Children transitioning into a special class or special school from early year’s settings

5. Pupils in primary school mainstream classes who present with the following disabilities:

- Children with Down syndrome

- Children who are Deaf or most severe hard of hearing

- Children who are blind or have a most severe visual impairment

- Children who have a moderate general learning disability

- Children with severe emotional behavioural difficulties

All special schools and primary schools with special classes are invited to provide the school based summer provision for their students. This programme will run for a minimum of two weeks and can extend up to four weeks where the schools, teachers and Special Needs Assistants are willing to participate.

Home-based provision will be available where a child’s local school is not providing a programme or does not have the capacity to accommodate a child in a planned programme this year. In this situation my Department will provide grant funding towards the engagement by Parents of a registered teacher / SNA to provide home based support for 10 hours a week for 4 weeks. My Department has no role in providing insurance in these situations.

The programme will be reliant on schools, teachers and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) choosing to participate on a voluntary basis.

A dedicated online registration system for families of children with special needs to access Summer Provision is now available on Gov.ie/summerprovision

Parents are asked to register their participation online, providing some outline information of the extent of their participation in the programme e.g. number of weeks.

Once registered, the parent is then free to plan and organise the programme for their child by consulting with the child’s school and securing the services of a teacher or SNA.

I also announced a programme for DEIS schools for this Summer.

Information on summer provision and its various strands, including guidance information for parents, is available at Gov.ie/summerprovision

Detailed public health guidance is being compiled at present and will be made available before the schemes commence, to enable appropriate planning to take place.

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