Stephen Donnelly clarifies comments on reopening of schools next week
Schools are expected to begin reopening next week.
Minster for Health Stephen Donnelly has clarified comments he made yesterday about the reopening of schools.
Speaking on Claire Byrne Live last night, the minister said that talks between the government and teachers unions regarding the expected phased reopening of schools next month were "ongoing," despite reports yesterday that a decision had been made.
"Coming on the show tonight I double checked as to exactly where we were, and where I thought we were was where you said," said Donnelly. "What I've been told in the past few hours is that Minister Foley is still in negotiations with the unions on this and Cabinet hopes to be in a position to announce something tomorrow."
"You're saying that it's not a done deal?" Byrne asked. Donnelly responded: "I have kids in some of those classes and I hope it to be the case, but I wanted to double checked before I came on the show as to what I could say.
"What I was told is the talks are still ongoing, and what Minister Foley wants to announce and what Cabinet wants to announce is the reopening."
Donnelly added that there is "nobody more frustrated than Minister Foley on this."
Talks on schools reopening are still ongoing - Stephen Donnelly @DonnellyStephen tells Claire that the reopening of schools for junior infants, senior infants, first class, second class and Leaving Cert students is not a done deal yet. #CBLive pic.twitter.com/a1682klrdZ
— Claire Byrne Live (@ClaireByrneLive) February 22, 2021
Donnelly later clarified his comments on Twitter, saying that meetings regarding the reopening of schools had finished yesterday afternoon and that an announcement will be issued.
He said: "Clarification re return of schools - Meetings with the teaching unions concluded early this afternoon. Government intends making an announcement after Cabinet in line with plans as already outlined."
A spokesperson from the Department of Education added that after the meetings had ended, union delegates left to brief their executives on the move.
Cabinet is expected to make an official announcement on the phased reopening of schools later today. Reports suggest that junior and senior infants, first and second classes, and Leaving Cert students will return to school on Monday, March 1.
Other primary classes and 5th year secondary school students will return on March 15, and the remaining secondary school students are expected to return on April 12.