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Leo Varadkar: Schools To Reopen On A Phased Basis From February

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Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said that it is the Government’s plan to open schools on a phased basis from February.

Varadkar was speaking on Claire Byrne last night ahead of the Government’s announcement that Ireland’s current restriction are to remain in place until March 5.

“I cannot give a definite date to parents, but the one thing that we do intend is to open education on a phased basis across February and March, starting with those kids with additional needs.”

“However, I can say to parents that the decision is to leave the restrictions fully in place until 5 March so we can get cases down to a much lower level and give hospitals a chance to recover.”

Leo Varadkar also said that the plan to reopen schools will be done in conjunction with education partners.

“It has to be done by agreement. We want to start with the special schools and then perhaps primary schools and exam classes.”

He went on to add “Case numbers are halving every ten days so it is reasonable that in 20 days’ time it could be down to 400, but because of the new variant being more transmissible we want to open schools on a phased basis.”

“We have to consult with unions and parents groups and students, but we are reasonably confident that by mid-February we will be down to case numbers that were at the same level as when schools fully reopened last September”.

The issue of schools reopening has been a contentious one. The planned reopening of some schools was postponed last week as Government officials and unions were in disagreement about safety. You can read Radio Nova’s report on it here.

The National Parents Council (NPC) has describe the situation as “staggering“. NPC CEO Aine Lynch said “Parents are really in limbo at the moment and struggling to see what the plan is. They really want certainty. I think soundbites through the media is not really helpful to parents at the moment who are trying to support their children and juggle so much in the home at e same time. They need a clear pathway of when their children are going back.”

As Level 5 restrictions have been extended to March 5 and with new changes brought in with regards to travel, check out the Government’s website here for the full details.