Most English Language Education (ELE) providers have already resumed classes on a full-time, daytime, 15 hours per week, in-person basis.
The letter of 25 September 2020, aligned the position of my Department with the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science (DFHERIS) who are the lead on the issue of ELE providers and public health.
DFHERIS have confirmed that ELE providers should only reopen their classroom settings where they are satisfied that they have put appropriate arrangements in place consistent with appropriate national guidelines to ensure it is safe to do so in terms of their responsibilities to staff and their duty of care to students. That Department has continued to highlight the requirement for the sector and individual providers to put in place and drive the implementation in each setting of a cohesive plan detailing appropriate arrangements for the re-opening of ELE classes where owners assess that it is safe to so. It continues to engage with sectorial representatives bodies and staff representatives on this basis.
Both Departments will work with providers to confirm the necessary arrangements are being put in place to ensure staff and current students of those providers can return to the classroom safely and will continue to engage with providers who may have concerns about reopening their classrooms at this time. Obviously, the matter will be kept under review.