19/08/2021

Revised Covid Guidance Published For New Academic Year

Revised Covid guidance has been published for how schools and educational settings should plan for the new academic year has been published by Education Minister Michelle McIlveen.

The guidance has been developed in close partnership with the Department of Health to ensure that the public health position was taken into account and in consultation with school leaders, key partners and Trade Union representatives.

Welcoming the revised guidance Michelle McIlveen said: "Today's revised guidance builds on the important experiences gained by our school leaders and staff throughout the pandemic and will help schools plan ahead confidently for the new school year.

"It allows schools leaders to determine their own individual circumstances when deciding what measures are needed to ensure that children and young people can access education in a safe environment."

The NI Executive ratified a range of relaxations on the 12 August, some of which had an impact on the delivery of education and more widely on children and young people.

Outlining some of the areas that have changed the Minister said: "While I encourage school leaders to consider the guidance in full, I wish to highlight a small number of areas that have changed ahead of the new academic year.
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"Educational settings are no longer required to operate a system of formal protective bubbles. However, in order to support effective contact tracing, schools will be asked to ensure pupils remain in consistent groups, where possible. Schools should continue to put measures in place to minimise transmission of the virus."

The Minister continued: "Face coverings should continue to be worn inside all school buildings by post-primary pupils including in classrooms from the start of the new term. The Executive agreed that this would be subject to review on 08 October.

"In regard to self-isolation and testing for staff and pupils identified as a close contact, guidance is being prepared by the Public Health Agency ahead of the return to school in line with current guidance for close contacts on the nidirect website."

Further detailed guidance on the self-isolation requirements for close contacts of a positive case is available on the nidirect website.

The Minister concluded: "I am confident that the Department's revised guidance provides school leaders with the flexibility to allow all our children and young people to access all aspects of their education in the new year within an environment that continues to mitigate the risks of virus transmission.

"I wish to thank school leaders and staff for their continued support and wish all pupils, teachers and staff a safe return to all our educational settings."

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