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 will commence this Thursday 11th February with children in special schools returning on a 50 per cent shared basis from that date.
It is regrettable that a pathway for a return to in-class learning for children with additional needs in mainstream schools could not be reached but we will continue to work with our partners to provide a resolution for this cohort of pupils.
The re-opening of our schools for all students remains a top priority for Government and I am committed to working on an ongoing basis with all stakeholders to achieve this outcome at the earliest opportunity.