Schools

  • As 54 schools across the country have identified positive Covid-19 cases since reopening, principals are calling for out of hours support, if they learn of a case of the virus in their school outside of working hours.

    Public health officials are asking schools to provide an out-of-hours contact number for principals, in case a member of staff or a student tests positive.

    President of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals Alan Mongey  - who's principal of Colaiste Baile Chláir in Claregalway, says he wants an out-of-hours number for the Department of Health in return.

  • Re-opening schools fully in September will need "serious, serious resourcing", according to the largest teaching union.

    The Taoiseach Micheal Martin has said he is confident students will be back in classes in under six weeks time, almost six months after they were ordered to close due to Covid-19.

    Discussions continue this weekend on how they can be re-opened with an announcement due on Monday.

    President of the ASTI, Deirdre McDonald says it is wishful thinking without guidelines.

  • The cabinet sub-committee on COVID is meeting around now this evening to discuss a date for the re-opening of schools.

    It's expected students will return to classrooms from March 1st on a phased basis.

    Some students won't return to the classroom until April.

    Senior Ministers are meeting to discuss the re-opening of the economy and what that might look like over the next few months.

    Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn will update the government on NPHET's advice.

    That's likely to be a phased return of schools from March 1st, starting with Leaving Cert students and junior infants, senior infants and first class.

    NPHET doesn't want a million people all moving about to schools and back from the start of March, so other classes will be phased in.

    There will be reviews every two or three weeks, meaning some students won't return to the classroom until April.

    There's some concerns from Ministers about whether construction can return next month, and NPHET will advise on this.

    There may also be an update from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee on the priority list for vaccinations, and whether groups like family carers can be bumped up the list.

    Discussions this evening will also feed into the updated living with COVID plan due to be released next week.

  • The Department of Education says schools, colleges of further education and third level institutions will re-open on Monday where possible.

    Each school will decide whether to open their doors to students, or remain closed, depending on the conditions in their area.

    The Department says they must ensure the safety of those in their care, and give due consideration to this when making their decision.

  • A proposal to extend the school break at Christmas has been ruled out by the Education Minister.

    The suggestion by the Labour Party would see the term end on December 18th, rather than the following week.

    It's highlighted the stress and fatigue experienced by teachers and students over the last few months.

    But Minister Norma Foley says she doesn't want pupils to lose out on any more class time:

  • Schools will not reopen for leaving cert students next week after a major U-turn by the government tonight.

    The pupils will continue to study remotely for the rest of the month, like other students.

    Leaving cert students were due to resume classes in school for three days a week from next Monday.

    But earlier today, teachers belonging to the ASTI were told by the union not to co-operate with the plans.

  • Children with special needs will not be returning to the classroom this week after the Government was forced to abandon the plan.

    The Department of Education says the decision was down to "a lack of co-operation" from teacher unions.

    The Irish National Teachers Organisation and Forsa had earlier called on the minister to postpone the reopening, saying "efforts to reassure staff schools are safe had failed".

    Further talks between the Department and unions are expected over the coming days.

     

  • Entire schools may not need to close if there's an outbreak of COVID in the classroom under the government's new back to school plan.

    Outbreaks will be handled individually by a COVID officer within the school following public health guidelines.

    Children from junior infants to second class won't have to observe social distancing and all others will have to be spaced a metre from their classmates.

    375 million euro in funding has been made available including money to recruit more than 1,000 teachers to reduce class sizes.

    Money has also been made available for minor works for schools to adapt their classrooms to allow capacity.

    Taoiseach Michael Martin says it's a major logistical challenge.

  • The Government's being challenged to be 'upfront' about any further delays to plans for new schools.

    Fianna Fail's Education Spokesperson says a lack of urgency in getting new school builds off the ground has left communities hanging on for years for new facilities.

    Deputy Thomas Byrne wants to know if building new buildings has been put on hold while the Department sorts out its finances.

  • Guidance for schools on how to re-open safely will be issued by the end of July.

    The government intends to open schools as fully as possible by the end of August and September.

    The Department of Education has acknowledged there will be increased staff required in some cases to allow schools to follow the guidelines.

  • The majority of outbreaks of Covid-19 last week were in households.

    Latest data from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre shows outbreaks in private homes accounted for 56% of the 404 new clusters in the week up to last Saturday.

    82 cases of Covid-19 were detected within the Traveller Community in the past week.

    Figures also show during the same period there were 24 new clusters in schools, 16 in childcare settings and 19 in workplaces - including 2 in meat plants.

    The figures show outbreaks in nursing homes and hospitals have reduced.

    Despite the increasing number of outbreaks in schools, the Government is working hard to ensure all secondary students return to school after Easter, according to the Minister for Finance.

    Minister Paschal Donohoe says he's aware of the impact of the lockdown on the wellbeing of young people and their families, and what it would mean for young students to get back to "some kind of normal life".

     

     

  • The INTO is warning schools won't return on March 15th if phased reopening causes a spike in Covid-19 cases.

    The next stage of reopening starts tomorrow, with Leaving Cert students and the first four years of primary school going back.

    Fifth years and all other primary school classes will return from March 15th, with all outstanding classes going back after the Easter break.

    The Irish National Teachers' Organisation says they'll be keeping a close eye on virus cases in schools.

    General Secretary John Boyle is appealing to parents not to send in children who feel unwell.

  • The Minister for Disability, Galway based Anne Rabbitte  insists she is continuing to advocate for vaccine prioritization for teachers, childcare assistants and SNAs in Special Schools and classes.

    She admits she was taken aback by NIAC advice to government last week to remove this cohort of what she describes as “frontline workers” from a prioritised vaccine rollout programme, and instead revert to age in terms of priority.

    Nonetheless, she says there is strong scientific advice that Covid 19, particularly some of the new strains of the virus, pose the greatest threat to older rather than younger people.

    She has described the updated vaccine rollout programme as “fluid”, and insists she will continue to make a strong case for teachers, SNAs and childcare assistants in special schools and classes.

    Minister Rabbitte recgonises these workers as “frontline”, as she told Midwest News Editor Teresa O’Malley..

     

     

  • The Department of Education says no decision has been taken yet on extending mid-term breaks for schools.

    It follows reports that the Government is looking at the idea of extending the break so that schools would close for two weeks over Halloween from October 23rd until November 9th.

    The Department of Education says keeping schools open is a key priority at all levels of the Living with Covid plan.

    And it insists there have been "relatively few instances" where coronavirus has spread within a school.

    Of 6,718 tests of staff and students at schools across the country, there's been a 2% positivity rate so far.

     

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    The National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals says it's important decisions about the reopening of schools are made without delay - so teachers can start planning for the next academic year.

    The Department of Education will publish a road map for schools in two weeks time.

    Yesterday, the INTO said it's not physically possible for children to return to schools in September under the two metre social distancing rule.

     The President of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals, Alan Mongey, says blended and remote learning will require planning and guidance.

  • A public health expert says it's going to be difficult to keep schools open.

    DCU Professor Anthony Staines thinks the latest covid 19 figures are a little disappointing, with 525 new cases and nine more deaths.

    He says the number of coronavirus cases continues to be stubbornly high and we're not making much progress driving it down.

    Professor Staines says it will be hard to lift restrictions due to current case numbers.

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    The reopening of schools on Monday is expected to be discussed when the Cabinet Sub-committee on Covid 19 meets tomorrow.

    The three party leaders along with the Health, Finance and Public Expenditure Ministers will attend as well as senior health officials.

    The meeting will take place as pressure on the health system increases amid rising coronavirus case numbers.

    The Department of Education earlier said it fully intends to reopen schools on the 11th of January.

    However, the Teachers Union of Ireland is recommending schools remain closed until January 18th.

    The TUI It says the very significant increase in positive cases of Covid-19 is cause for justifiable alarm, and a further delay is needed.

    The Irish Independent reports this evening that ministers across all three Govt parties do not expect schools to fully reopen next week.

     

  • Every school in the country is to reopen its doors to students in just over a month's time.

    The government's confirmed all schools, which has been closed since March 12th, will "fully reopen" by the end of the August.

    Ministers will discuss the plan for schools on Monday, which will outline the measures and resources needed to ensure a safe return to the classroom.

  • Schools will be required to consult with parents and pupils on the use of Smart Phones in Schools.

    The Education Minister will send out a circular to all schools immediately telling them smart phones are an item requiring consultation with teachers, parents and pupils.

    That includes what devices are allowed and if they can be used for photos and videos and if age restrictions will apply to younger pupils.

    However, a spokesperson for the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland said most schools already have rules on smart phones, and said a blanket ban wouldn't work.

     

     

  • Special schools will reopen on February 11th after agreement was reached between teachers unions and the Department of Education.

    Special classes in mainstream schools will also resume 11 days later on February 22nd.

    Attendances will be initially limited to 50 percent, and there will be enhanced safety measures like PPE and around class sizes.

    Minister of State for Disabilities, Anne Rabbitte, says it's welcome news: