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Schools won't be closing early for Christmas - department

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NPCPP’s Mai Fanning said maintaining normality is key

NPCPP’s Mai Fanning said maintaining normality is key

NPCPP’s Mai Fanning said maintaining normality is key

the Department of Education has again insisted there is no question of schools closing early for Christmas, unless public health advice changes.

"There are no plans to alter the school break," a spokesperson said.

The Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI) called for serious consideration to be given to bringing the holidays forward, saying it would boost morale and allow a longer time for pupils and teachers to restrict movements before potentially meeting elderly or vulnerable relatives at Christmas.

Labour leader Alan Kelly raised the matter with Micheál Martin in the Dáil, asking that the proposal be considered by the Government, but the Taoi-seach replied: "The minister has given her position."

The National Parents' Council Post Primary (NPCPP) is against the idea. 

NPCPP president Mai Fanning said it was important to retain as much normality as possible for students.

"We must remember that coming up to Christmas is an important time for children in school," she said.

"The season brings a lot - the camaraderie of the school community, getting into the Christmas spirit."

Ms Fanning said seeing out the full term was also very important for exam classes, particularly the Leaving Cert class of 2021.

She said sixth years would be "heading into the mocks very shortly after Christmas, so in the lead-up to Christmas it is important that they get as much time in class with teachers as they possibly can."

It comes as the primary teachers' union says school staff must be on the priority list for a Covid-19 vaccine when it becomes available.

The Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO) will make its case for special treatment for teachers and their colleagues to the Oireachtas Education Committee today.

There is growing optimism about the availability of vaccines early in the new year, but initial supplies are expected to be limited and will be targeted.

Strategy

The Government has not announced its strategy for a vaccination programme, but healthcare workers and people in vulnerable groups are expected to be first in line.

While the rate of Covid-19 transmission in schools is low, vaccinating staff would be a step in terms of protection.

INTO general secretary John Boyle will tell the committee today the union is insisting that when the vaccine becomes available, all those who work in schools be prioritised.

The committee has invited INTO and the two other teacher unions, ASTI and TUI, as well as FORSA, which also represents school staff, to a hearing to discuss the impact of Covid-19 on education.

Schools are approaching the end of the third week since their return after the mid-term break, when extra measures were introduced to beef up the public health response to a case in the school comm- unity.


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