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Education Minister issues statement on schools

07 December 2020

covid update
The Minister for Education, Senator Tracey Vallois, has issued the following statement: 

"I am truly grateful for the commitment and dedication that our teachers and school leaders are demonstrating in providing continuity of education as we approach the end of the autumn term. I fully understand that parents, students, teachers and unions will be concerned, given the latest increase in Covid-19 cases in the community and, consequently, in our schools. 

I have been monitoring the situation very closely, meeting with medical officers, officials and Ministerial colleagues. Continual assessment is taking place to ensure that I am provided with the most up to date health advice and I am also regularly reviewing the impact on resourcing from contact tracing and requirements for isolation.

Today, the medical advice remains the same - that there is no compelling case to suggest that schools should close early at this stage. The evidence continues to show that the health impact of the virus on children and staff is very low, and that if schools were to close this would have an impact on the loss of education and would pose mental health and wellbeing challenges for children and young people. 

In recognition of the concerns that some parents and carers have expressed, we will take a flexible approach to attendance. If any parent or carer has significant concerns about attendance they should speak to their school.

It is recognised that increasing staff shortages in our nurseries, schools and colleges may, unfortunately, lead to the necessity to close some classes to maintain pupils’ and staff health, safety and well-being.

I would like to pay tribute to all of the school staff, children, young people and their families for the continued effort and understanding during these difficult times and we understand the anxieties some of you may be feeling. 

Support is available for young people through their schools, the Youth Service YES project and a new online service for young people aged between 13 and 25. 

The Children and Families Hub is also available for professionals, parents, carers and children and young people.

I would like to stress again that I am keeping the school, college and nursery situation under continuous, daily review. If the impact on resourcing, operational or medical advice require a further decision I will update schools, parents and students immediately.”

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