Department of Education says it intends to reopen all schools on April 12th

Foley says schools remain safe and transmission levels in schools remain very low

Minister for Education Norma Foley. File photograph: Dara MacDónaill

The Department of Education has confirmed that it remains its intention to reopen all schools on April 12th following the Easter break.

In a letter to principals on Friday evening, the department said this will complete the final phase reopening of schools with the return of first to fourth year students at second level.

The correspondence reflects comments made by Minister for Education Norma Foley over recent days, who has said schools remain safe settings in light of low Covid-19 transmission rates.

Many schools have been instructing students to bring home their books on a precautionary basis over recent days.


However, Ms Foley has said that latest data on Covid-19 in schools is very encouraging and appears to reflect mitigation measures in place and high compliance by school communities.

“As you are aware the Government decided on a phased return of pupils to school during March and April. As we are now approaching Easter, I wish to reaffirm to you the government’s intention that all students will return to school from Monday 12 April,” the letter states.

“This is the final stage in the phased reopening of all schools and will see the return of all children to in-school learning, including the first to fourth year groups at post-primary level.”

It says the department is aware of the “immense efforts” made by school communities to ensure remote teaching and learning was running well for students and to plan and arrange for the return to school for those students that have returned.

It adds that the Department of Education and public health authorities are monitoring and reviewing the operation of schools on an ongoing basis.

Weekly reports on the testing of close contact within the education system are published online.

“Public health keep the infection prevention and control measures in place for schools under review. The current measures in place to ensure safe operation of schools are effective in minimising the risk of Covid-19 in schools. It is important that all measures are followed carefully by pupils, staff and parents,” it adds.

The letter says arrangements are currently being made for the payment of the next instalment of Covid-19 grants to schools for cleaning and PPE.

In addition, temporary “flexible staffing arrangements” in place during the phased reopening will cease from April 12th.

Further clarification will follow in relation to pregnant staff pending further consideration by the HSE. An updated circular will issue on this is due to issue on April 1st.

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien is Education Editor of The Irish Times. He was previously chief reporter and social affairs correspondent