The Education Minister has said pre-school education settings, primary and post primary schools will be required to provide remote learning to pupils until the half term break in mid-February.
Special schools will remain open as usual.
The Executive will be keeping the position under review.
Vulnerable children and children of key workers will have access to schools for supervised learning. Only one parent/guardian is required to be a key worker.
Other key points include:
- Direct payments will be made to families whose children are entitled to free school meals;
- Childcare settings to remain open;
- Childminders are allowed to continue their provision.
The Minister said: “Any disruption to schooling for a significant period of time will have a devastating impact on children’s educational opportunities and future prospects, as well as being damaging to their mental health and well-being.
“No matter how well managed or provided, removal of face to face learning and its replacement with remote learning impacts on children’s educational experience, with a disproportionate impact on disadvantaged groups and vulnerable children.
“It should, therefore, be only contemplated as a last resort in extreme public health circumstances such as we are currently facing, and should be maintained for a period no longer than is necessary.”
Turning to public examinations, Peter Weir said his priority has always been to ensure that, if at all possible, exams should go ahead as planned.
“My overriding aim is ensure that our students are not disadvantaged in terms of their qualifications compared with other jurisdictions. Work is ongoing on this issue as a matter of urgency and I intend to provide further clarity in the next couple of days. Until and unless any announcement is made, students should expect to continue to sit scheduled examinations.”