Peter Weir wants all primary pupils back on March 22, and all secondary pupils in class after Easter

Stormont’s education minister has tabled proposals to accelerate the return of children to classes in Northern Ireland.

Peter Weir's proposals will be discussed at Thursday's meeting of the Executive
Peter Weir's proposals will be discussed at Thursday's meeting of the Executive

Peter Weir wants all primary school children to be in classes by March 22 and all secondary school children back at school after the Easter holidays on April 12.

The PA news agency understands the proposals are in a paper circulated to Executive colleagues ahead of Thursday’s meeting of the power-sharing administration.

It is unclear whether any of the proposals will be approved by the Executive.

Stormont health advisers have previously stressed the need to stagger the resumption of face-to-face learning to provide sufficient time to analyse the impact of each phase on Covid-19 infection rates in the community.

Thousands of P1-P3 pupils returned to classes for the first time since December on Monday. Pre-school and nursery children also returned.

Under Stormont’s current phased plan for school return, the next pupils to resume face-to-face learning are secondary school pupils in key exam years, year groups 12-14, on March 22.

The P1-P3, nursery and pre-school children are supposed to resume remote learning in that week to minimise the impact on community infection rates of the secondary school return.

No date has yet been confirmed for the return of the wider school population.

Mr Weir wants to cancel the plan to bring young children back out of classes on March 22.

He also wants all other primary school pupils – P4 to P7s – to get back into a classroom on that date.

Mr Weir is proposing that the remaining cohort of children – secondary school years 8 to 11 – would return to class after the Easter holidays on Monday April 12.