Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Questions (394)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

394. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science if an issue (details supplied) in relation to music classes will be reviewed; if clarity will be provided regarding these classes for education purposes under the current level 5 restrictions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2643/21]

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Written answers (Question to Further and Higher Education)

The Resilience and Recovery 2020-2021: Plan for Living with COVID-19 was published by the Government on 15 September, 2020. Ireland is currently at Level 5 of the Plan and under this level the public health risk means that we are all being asked to stay at home, with certain exceptions. Information on the public health measures in currently in place in relation to the different Levels can be found at https://www.gov.ie/en/campaigns/c36c85-covid-19-coronavirus/

The Health Act 1947 (Section 31A-Temporary Restrictions) (COVID-19) (No.8) Regulations 2020, which give effect to the level 5 restrictions under the Plan, provide the list of essential retail and essential services which may operate under level 5 restrictions. This list does not include private or commercial music, drama or dance classes.

Education is, however, considered an essential service under the regulations. Under Part 2 of the schedule to the regulations, essential education encompasses primary and post-primary schools, and higher and further education where remote learning is not possible. Where a service provider considers that they fall into the essential education category e.g. as part of the national curriculum or as part of a specific, state-sponsored course of study, they should refer to the Department of Education’s guidance in relation to the operation of education services under Level 5 restrictions. My Department does not have sufficient information to determine if the music classes being referred to fall under this category.

Separately, the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth has published guidance to support the funded youth work sector. Where a service provider meets the definition of youth work, as defined under Section 3 of the Youth Work Act 2001 and is part of the state funded youth work sector, they should refer to that Department’s guidance.