Minister for Education Norma Foley TD together with officials, has today met with representatives from Public Health, the HSE and education stakeholders to discuss the re-opening of schools following the Christmas break, on Thursday 6 January.

These meetings were productive, with all parties recognising the importance to students of in-school teaching and learning and the need for all in the school community to have regard to the measures in place to support school communities to operate in line with Public Health advice.

Education stakeholders were briefed by the Minister and Public Health representatives on how the Covid-19 mitigation measures in place in schools have been reviewed by Public Health and will continue in place in the coming term. Public Health remains of the view that these mitigation measures are effective and appropriate.  Furthermore, Public Health officials advised that there is no Public Health rationale to delay the reopening of schools later this week.

Schools will operate in line with their Covid-19 response plans, which set out a range of mitigation measures for schools, including hand hygiene, mask-wearing, and social distancing. Schools have also been provided with guidance on maintaining good ventilation.

The successful roll-out by the HSE of the booster vaccination campaign for adults and the opening the vaccine programme to children aged 5-11 was also noted.        

Guidance for parents and students on ensuring symptomatic students and household close contacts should not attend school is being issued through a communications campaign as well as directly through schools. Further to today’s meetings, clarifications and further information will issue to schools from Public Health and the Department tomorrow in advance of schools reopening.

The Department will continue to meet regularly with the education partners as part of the ongoing supports to the school system during Covid-19.

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