More virus disruption ahead for schools, says Education Minister

Schools can expect disruption to learning in the coming weeks because of the spread of the Omicron variant, education minister Michelle McIlveen has said.

Friday, 14th January 2022, 10:29 pm
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 15th June 2021 - Education Minister, Michelle McIlveen . Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

In a letter updating parents in Northern Ireland on the impact of the Covid pandemic, the DUP minister said the Executive has a shared objective to keep schools “open and safe”.

She also told parents that opening windows was the most effective way of helping ventilation in classrooms and added that she had encouraged schools to be flexible with their uniform policies.

She also said that contingency arrangements are in place for qualifications to be awarded on teacher assessments if exams have to be cancelled this summer.

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Ms McIlveen’s letter said: “Case numbers in children and staff are likely to continue to reflect those in the community and we can expect some disruption in the coming weeks. My focus has been, and remains, on the continuing provision of education within our schools for all our children. I want to reassure you that the NI Executive continues to have a shared objective to keep schools safe and open, because the best place for children and young people is in school.”

Ms Ilveen said there had been much discussion on the importance of ventilation in reducing Covid risks. She added: “I have been advised by health colleagues that natural ventilation, by opening windows, is the single most effective measure.”

The minister said the intention is for GCSEs and A-levels to go ahead this summer, but that students would have to take “fewer examinations”. She said ‘contingency arrangements’ had been established.