Pupils with special needs are returning to mainstream primary and secondary schools from today, as phased re-opening of schools is set to continue from next week.
As part of the government’s plans to re-open schools in Ireland, special schools have been open at half or limited capacity since February 11.
From next Monday, all pupils in special schools will be able to return to class for a full five-day week.
Leaving Certificate students, junior infants, senior infants, first and second class pupils will also begin to return to mainstream school from next Monday March 1.
Remaining students will be phased back into the classroom over the coming weeks.
However, non-Leaving Cert classes at second-level could be waiting until April to get back to school.
Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman told RTÉ’s Today with Philip Boucher-Hayes programme that he believes the majority of secondary school students will return after the Easter break, last week.
The Cabinet Covid sub-committee is to meet today to discuss the phased reopening of schools in line with Nphet advice, before the Living with Covid plan is discussed at Cabinet tomorrow.
The issue of classroom ventilation is likely to be raised at the subcommittee after The Department of Education denied that there would an emphasis on ventilation, after a senior Government source told the independent.ie that “there would be an emphasis on ventilation “even if it means the kids and the teacher having to wear their coats in class”.
A spokesperson from the department said, “The guidelines have not been finalised and are still subject to discussion with stakeholders. They will be issued after Cabinet,” to the newspaper.
The issue of ventilation was raised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to “ensure adequate ventilation and increase total airflow.”
Nphet discussed the recommendations from the WHO last month, before an expert group was brought in to consider how it should be part of the new guidelines.