Taoiseach all but confirms schools will remain closed until January 31 1 week ago

Taoiseach all but confirms schools will remain closed until January 31

"There is an issue in terms of having a million people on the go, which is essentially what opening schools means..."

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has all but confirmed that schools in Ireland will not reopen next week and will remain closed until 31 January.

Speaking to RTÉ News at One on Tuesday, Martin confirmed that closing the schools until the end of the month was on the agenda at a meeting of a Cabinet sub-committee on Covid this afternoon and said that “we have to err on the side of caution”.

“The Chief Medical Officer and myself are in agreement that there is an issue in terms of having a million people on the go, which is essentially what opening schools means and a million people are out there in the community,” Martin said.

“And given the rapidity of the spread of the disease and given what we’re witnessing elsewhere, in other jurisdictions in terms of that rapidity and that growth, one has to really measure the advisability of doing that.”

“That’s why it is on the agenda today that we will extend out the closure of schools to the end of the month,” Martin added.

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“We know the vaccines are there, we have the vaccine situation, now that we know we can protect life much more effectively in terms of the rollout of the vaccination programme as well as the public health guidelines, I think we have to err on the side, of course, of caution now.”

Martin said that the government will be looking to address the issue of education for children with special needs in particular and engaging with the sector, which he said came under “considerable strain” during the first lockdown, to see what the government could do to help.

The Taoiseach also said that catering for the education of children of essential workers would be a challenge.

“We will do what we can. Look, there is no easy way,” he said.

Martin said that the situation in schools would be reviewed on 30 January and that it is still planned that this year’s Leaving Cert exams should go ahead as scheduled.

Confirmation of the decision on the delayed reopening of schools is expected following a meeting of Cabinet on Wednesday morning.

In a more general context, Martin described the Covid-19 situation in Ireland as “very, very serious” and pleaded with people to stay at home and to not to leave home unless for essential reasons.