Guidance documents issued to all primary and special schools on the 3rd of February to support the phased re-opening of special education. This guidance included updated public health guidance and a framework document which outlines temporary time-bound staffing arrangements, information on childcare, the application of substitution arrangements and other matters.
Updated Covid-19 response plan templates have also been provided to schools. In addition, funding is in place to support implementation of all infection prevention control (IPC) measures required by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) including the provision of appropriate PPE for SNAs and Special Education Teaching staff. Any school that needs additional funding for PPE can get in touch with the Department.
School transport services will fully operate with the continued additional hygiene and other measures that were introduced on school transport services at the start of the school year. Parents have been asked to notify schools three days in advance where they would prefer not to avail of the service during this interim phase. Public health guidelines are being implemented on the Special Educational Needs transport scheme, however where parents would prefer not to use the service during this interim period, the Department will make temporary grants available for transport. Parents can resume using their tickets when schools reopen in full.
As primary schools are partially reopening for the provision of in-school learning for special classes on Monday 22nd February 2021, schools have capacity to utilise the whole of the school premises, as required. Enhanced cleaning regimes should resume when schools reopen during this phase.
The Department is very appreciative of the ongoing efforts of the school community working to limit the risk of the spread of COVID-19 in schools and ensuring that the infection control measures put in place in line with the school COVID-19 response plans are effective in making schools safe for children and staff.