Children at special schools and those in special classes in primary schools will begin returning to in-person classes from next Thursday, 21 January.
The decision came following a meeting between government Ministers and primary and special education stakeholders this morning.
Minister for Education Norma Foley said that the government is also working with post-primary stakeholders to address their concerns and recognising that post-primary schools present different logistical challenges if a partial return is to be possible.
“I very much hope that we can work together to set out a pathway for the return of all children at all levels of schooling at the start of February, subject of course to Government and public health consideration of what constitutes the safe movement of people at that point,” said the Minister.
“I am aware that staff, parents and students across all levels of education are looking for very clear communication from our colleagues in the health sector to reaffirm that infection prevention and control measures in our schools are effective at this time.”
Minister for Special Education Josepha Madigan added: “The driving concern is and must continue to be the wellbeing in the fullest sense of the children who rely on specialist provision to receive their education and to progress.
“I am pleased that today we can provide them and their families with some certainty of a return to routine, with a phased return for children in special classes and schools, and provision for children with identified needs in mainstream classes.”