Schools and classes for children with special educational needs to reopen next Thursday

“We are working together towards a phased return.”

Special schools and classes for children special educational needs will reopen next Thursday after being closed since before Christmas.

It follows an agreement with school staff unions over assurances of the safety of reopening classes in accordance with public health guidance.

In a joint statement on Thursday, Minister for Education Norma Foley and Minister of State for special education Josepha Madigan said all parties are working together towards a “phased return” for children in special schools and a return to school for those in special classes in primary schools and children with significant additional needs in mainstream primary classes, beginning on Thursday 21 January.

“We are working together towards a phased return for children in special schools and a return to school for those in special classes in primary schools and children with significant additional needs in mainstream classes beginning on 21 January,” Foley said.

“I very much hope that we can work together to set out a pathway for the return of all children at all levels of schooling at the start of February, subject of course to Government and public health consideration of what constitutes the safe movement of people at that point.

“I am aware that staff, parents and students across all levels of education are looking for very clear communication from our colleagues in the health sector to reaffirm that infection prevention and control measures in our schools are effective at this time.

“My officials are continuing to engage closely with senior Public Health specialists in this respect and direct communications in the coming days through webinars, videos for parents and written FAQs will supplement the significant levels of information and guidance available already.

“I want to commend the efforts of schools, parents and students this week as remote learning has resumed.”

Speaking in the Dáil on Thursday, Madigan paid tribute to all parties involved in the agreement.

“This is a really positive development and obviously we have logistical issues that we need to sort out but I share my thanks to the education partners and to Minister Foley for all the work that has been done today,” Madigan she said.

.