Education Restart – Information for Parents and Carers from the Department of Education NI

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The start of term will be 24 August 2020 for Primary 7, Year 12 and Year 14 pupils and for vulnerable children across all year groups.

All other pupils will return to school from the week commencing 31 August 2020. This return will be on a full time basis of five days a week for every pupil, including those pupils who attend Special Schools.

Everyone has a role to play in keeping our schools safe and helping to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Do not send your child to school if they have COVID-19 symptoms.

The Minister of Education, Peter Weir MLA, has written to all parents and carers to outline some of the key information about the return to school.
Letter to parents and carers from Minister Weir – 13 August 2020

A leaflet is also available for parents and carers which outlines some of the things you will need to think about when your child returns to school (see below)

If you have a specific concern or question about a particular issue relating to your child’s educational setting you should, in the first instance, make contact directly with the school Principal, Leader, Management Committee or the Board of Governors.

What protective measures will be in place in schools?

To make sure that schools remain safe for our children, young people and staff, a number of measures will be put in place. These include;
Keeping Covid-19 out of schools. Anyone displaying any Covid-19 symptoms must not attend school.

Enhanced hygiene and cleaning measures will be in place. All cleaning will be carried out in accordance with PHA Guidance. Regular cleaning of door handles, desk tops etc. will take place throughout the day.

Children will wash their hands as soon as they arrive at school and regularly throughout the school day.

Public health guidance with respect to social distancing of 2 metres (2m) will remain in place between adults and as far as possible between adults and pupils.

Whilst the stringent application of social distancing requirements between pupils will be relaxed, as far as is practicable, social distancing should be maximised for both children and adults who are not from the same household.

Protective bubbles will be used as a key mitigating action where possible. The protective bubble arrangements will be used to segment pupils into a consistent group or groups that arrive together, learn together, play together and eat together, reducing contact throughout the school with other children.

Classroom space will be maximised as far as possible with unnecessary items removed and schools will make use of all space including outdoor space.

Children will not sit facing each other where possible and seating plans can be used to aid contact tracing in the event of a positive Covid-19 case.

PHA guidance under the Test and Trace and Protect programme will be applied for all staff or pupils in contact with someone who tests positive for Covid-19.

Lunch and break times may be staggered with more sittings, take away services and / or delivery to classrooms.

Staggered arrival and pick up times may be introduced to limit interactions and avoid gatherings at the school gates.

Given the risk mitigations in place in schools to limit and contain the spread of COVID-19, face coverings are not generally recommended for routine use in schools.  Staff and pupils may wish to use them during the routine school day and this is acceptable.

With the exception of those who are exempt, it is mandatory for all pupils aged 13 and over to wear a face covering on public transport.  It is also strongly recommended that all pupils regardless of age, should wear a face covering on all buses, trains or taxis for the journey to school where it is appropriate for them to do so and they are able to handle them as directed.