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01st Feb 2021

Special schools in Ireland to reopen from 11 February

Rory Cashin

schools reopening

A maximum of fifty percent of pupils can attend on alternating days.

It has been announced by the Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO) that special schools are due to reopen from Thursday, February 11, with special classes in mainstream schools set to return from Monday, 22 February.

A statement released by INTO can be found in full here, but some of the highlighted details from their announcement can be found below:

“[R]esumption will commence with the partial reopening of special schools, where there may be a maximum of fifty percent of pupils attending on alternate days and shortly thereafter include special education classes in mainstream schools in a similar approach. It is expected that special schools will open on Thursday, 11 February and that special classes in mainstream schools will open on Monday, 22 February.”

“Detailed plans, which the INTO and Fórsa have scrutinised, will be circulated to schools tomorrow. They will include detailed information on the steps which need to be taken for the planned resumption of in-school support for pupils with special educational needs. We have jointly insisted that boards of management must be given adequate notice, guidance and time to plan for this phased reopening and to liaise with parents of children with special educational needs.

“Ahead of detailed guidance being issued tomorrow, the INTO can this evening confirm that, following engagement with the Department of Education, we have secured a suite of necessary additional supports for special education facilities. These include:

  • Robust risk mitigation measures.
  • Augmented school support teams in all HSE areas to provide advice, contact tracing and bulk fast-track testing.
  • Flexible arrangements for staff in high risk health categories to continue working from home throughout the interim programme.
  • Financial support for families who wish to transport their children to school for the duration of the programme.
  • The publication of school based testing reports to inform our understanding of transmission rates in schools during the interim period.
  • High grade face masks to be provided to any teacher who seeks them.
  • A public awareness campaign designed to ensure compliance with public health advice in schools.
  • Clarity on the higher priority rating of special education staff within the vaccination schedule.”

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