The Government decision, taken on 30 December, on foot of public health advice to reduce mobility in the community, was to extend school holidays by 3 days.
My Department is acutely aware of the disruption caused to pupils/students as a result of school closures resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The public health restrictions which resulted in the closure of schools in March 2020 highlighted the absolute necessity for schools to be agile in providing for continuity of schooling in the future. As a contingency measure against the possibility of partial or full school closures, my Department has already provided a suite of guidance materials, agreed with the education partners, to enable schools to facilitate the continuity of learning for all pupils/students in a Covid-19 context. These are available at www.gov.ie/backtoschool.
The Department’s ongoing engagement with public health and partners at the present time is focussing on the safe return of pupils and students to school and supporting the provision of remote learning at this time.
Engagement with all stakeholders will set out a pathway for the return of all children at all levels of schooling at the start of February; subject of course to Government and public health consideration of what constitutes the safe movement of people at that point.