Calls for clarity on any potential proposals to extend school mid-term break

Calls for clarity on any potential proposals to extend school mid-term break

Schools are due to close for mid-term break between Monday, October 26 and Friday, October 30, but under the new considerations, they could remain closed until Friday, November 6.

"Kite flying via the media" is not the correct way for discussion on a potentially longer school mid-term break to be made public, according to a Cork TD.

Sinn Féin spokesperson on education Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has responded to reports that the Department of Education may extend school closures over the mid-term break.

A Government source is reported in The Irish Times as saying that adding an extra week to this year's break "has been discussed briefly".

However, it is understood that the issue has not been formally considered and no contact has been made with unions or schools as of yet.

"This idea may be worth considering, however, it should be discussed directly with the education partners, if there is a specific proposal," Mr Ó Laoghaire said.

Sinn Fein Spokesperson on Education & Skills Donnchadh O Laoghaire TD
Sinn Fein Spokesperson on Education & Skills Donnchadh O Laoghaire TD

"We need clarification, if this might be a two weeks break for schools, or a week's break followed by a week's remote learning, or whatever is being considered.

"Crucially, parents will need reassurance that this is a temporary measure and that this won’t lead to an extended closure of schools," he added.

"The Department needs to sit down with the education partners and put an actual proposal on the table, rather than just throwing this out there and seeing what way the wind blows."

As it stands, schools are due to close for mid-term break between Monday, October 26 and Friday, October 30.

In response to the reports that the mid-term could be lengthened, INTO General Secretary John Boyle said that education stakeholders need to be consulted on any measures.

“INTO called for and secured regular engagement with the Department of Education to support the planning and preparation for the reopening of our schools. INTO has advocated for the resources and support needed to ensure we keep our schools open safely,” he said.

“It is imperative that when significant decisions are being made that the education stakeholders are consulted and given due notice of the outcomes so we can manage any potential disruption to our primary schools,” Mr Boyle added.

He also called for an urgent review of public health advice on schools “to determine the necessary level of protocols, protections and precautionary measures needed when the level of infection is very high in a community and for clarity on the status of schools at Level 5.” 

Mr Boyle also highlighted the possibility of a partial opening of schools: “There are alternatives to closure and to supporting learning remotely, such as partial opening where half of each class attends school on a rota basis.

“Having the EU’s largest classes leaves little room for distancing in primary schools.”

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