Following intensive engagement and input from primary and special education partners, a framework has now been developed and agreed with all partners, including unions and management, in order to achieve a phased return to in-school provision for children with the most complex special educational needs.
Under the framework the following phased return to in-school provision has been agreed:
Phase 1: Special schools will reopen from Thursday 11th February 2021. In accordance with this agreement pupils will attend on a 50 per cent basis to allow for attendance of reduced numbers within the school setting. This will be reviewed in line with public health advice.
Phase 2: Primary and Post-Primary Special Classes will reopen from Monday 22nd February 2021.
Guidance documents have issued to schools in advance of this reopening, including updated public health guidance and a framework document which outlines temporary time-bound staffing arrangements, the application of substitution arrangements, time-bound temporary arrangements for pupil attendance, information on school transport options, childcare provision and other matters.
The guidance outlines that childcare facilities remain open to provide childcare for children of essential workers, including SNAs. The Department Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth has provided FAQs and information on subsidies that may be available for education sector staff, including SNA's, under the National Childcare Scheme is available on www.ncs.gov.ie.
In addition greater flexibility in the use of existing parental leave days has also been put in place for SNAs during this limited interim phase.