'Too early to say how schools will open in September' says Education Minister
We are still six or seven weeks away from the summer holidays – meaning another month and a half of homeschooling for parents across Ireland.
Schools have been closed here since mid-March and are currently due to only reopen at the start of the new school year in the autumn, but now Education Minister, Joe McHugh, has said it is too early to say how schools will manage to fully be back in September due to the need for social distancing.
Speaking at RTE’s The Week In Politics programme, Minister McHugh explained that he has set up an advisory group to examine the issue and the group will work towards opening schools. He said: “NPHET (National Public Health Emergency Team) advice is that schools will reopen in September, so the question is now how can we do that in a safe way and I think it is too early to say how that will look. But that is the job we have started and we will continue to work our way through it.”
Asked if schools reopening would mean smaller classes or start times being staggered, he said: “We are trying to give as much clarity as possible and the last thing I want to be doing in the month of May is to say exactly what this will look like. That is why I want to have a proper consultation about it.
“I am going to work with the advisory group that I have set up and that work is going to continue.
“We are going to work with all the stakeholders and I have already started the conversation a number of weeks ago. With a lot of the stakeholders, whether it is post-primary or primary, we are going to work towards opening the schools."
It was only announced on Friday that this year's Leaving Certificate examinations will not go ahead this summer as a result of the pandemic.
Instead, students will have the option of receiving grades calculated by their teachers based on their school work. To be clear, leaving cert students will have the option to sit the exam at a later date, but are warned it will not be in time for when colleges open in September.