Return date for all children to be discussed today at Stormont

The return date for all children to school will be discussed today by the Northern Ireland Executive.

By Gemma Murray
Thursday, 11th March 2021, 8:08 am

Education Minister Peter Weir said he wanted all pupils in Northern Ireland back in classrooms by April 12.

But in a paper Education Minister Peter Weir now recommends that all primary pupils who have not yet returned to school (primaries four to seven) should start on March 22.

And Mr Weir has said he wants to scrap the plan for pupils in primaries one to three, who returned to class on Monday, to revert to remote learning.

A classroom

The minister argued that plan did not make “enormous sense” and that those year groups should be allowed to continue with face-to-face learning.

Department of Health advisers previously warned against a full return of schools like in England, instead recommending a phased approach.

Speaking at a Covid-19 briefing at Stormont on Wednesday, Health Minister Robin Swann said people still had to be careful about the spread of coronavirus if restrictions were to be eased.

“I fully understand calls for restrictions to be relaxed and I understand the impatience, however, we still have to tread carefully and never underestimate this virus.

“We have to build steadily on the progress we had because we are turning the corner so let’s keep going.”

More than 600,0000 people in Northern Ireland have now received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.