Image copyright STEPHEN DAVISON Image caption More than 300,000 children and young people will return to the classroom on Tuesday Almost all schools in Northern Ireland will open fully to pupils on Tuesday for the first time since mid-March. More than 300,000 children and young people will return to the classroom. Education Minister Peter Weir
Almost all schools in Northern Ireland will open fully to pupils on Tuesday for the first time since mid-March.
More than 300,000 children and young people will return to the classroom.
Education Minister Peter Weir has described it as “a good day for education and for all young people”.
“I’m sure everything won’t go perfectly in relation to it, but I think it’s a major step forward and it’s important that we get our young people back into full-time education,” he said.
“Obviously we will be monitoring the situation closely, but I think this is a good day for education and for all young people, that we are able to get a third of a million children back into school.
“There are bound to be some bumps in the road.”
Mr Weir told Radio Ulster’s Good Morning Ulster that while it is the executive’s priority to keep schools open, there will be cases of Covid-19.
“Where those happen, schools will be working closely with the Public Health Agency,” he said.
“It may be their response will be different from case to case depending on the circumstances and, undoubtedly, there’s likely to be some level of interruption in terms of education, but across the board I think we want to ensure that schools remain open.”
The education minister said that while he understood some parents were apprehensive, it was in children’s best interests to get back to school.
“The advice that we’ve been given is supported by public health, by the chief medical officer, the chief scientific advisor, and the long-term impact of children missing education, I think, will be very damaging for the long-term future so I would urge parents to send their children to school,” he said.
“It is understandable that parents will have their concerns, but I think the vast majority of parents will welcome this move and I think it’s the best for children to return to full-time education.
“All the international evidence shows that children are massively less at risk of the virus than adults and that the key element in this should be children should be going back to school.”
Schools have introduced a number of safety measures including staggered start times, one-way systems and face coverings used by post-primary students.
“There is nothing in life which is going to be risk-free,” Mr Weir said.
“Sadly we will see probably more children this year will be involved in serious accidents at home than from Covid, so it is about time to mediate and minimise risk – and school is a safe place for children to be in.”