Education Minister Peter Weir
Primary school pupils in P4 to P7 will return to face to face teaching on 22 March.
Following agreement by the Executive today, pupils in P4 to P7 will join the younger students who started back to full-time face to face teaching last week.
All remaining pupils (Years 8 to 11) will return on 12 April after the Easter break. This will be subject to a review at the end of March.
Education Minister Peter Weir said: “Today is a very good day for schools, pupils and parents. I welcome the decision by the Executive to allow the remaining primary school pupils to return next week with the intention that all pupils will be back in school from 12 April.
“My main objective has always been a full return of all pupils to school in line with public health advice. Education has rightly been prioritised by the Executive for all the benefits that brings to our children and also for the longer term societal and economic benefits.
“Given the significant disruption to our children’s learning, our focus now must be on educational recovery which will be critical to their future prospects. With Executive support, I intend to invest in the necessary resources to help pupils address any disruption to their learning that they may have faced since the start of the pandemic.
Concluding the Minister said that he had also written to schools on plans to introduce regular testing in schools.
Peter Weir said: “Testing for school staff and older pupils will provide a significant level of reassurance to education settings. All settings will be reminded of the need for stringent adherence to good practice and additional signage will be provided to all schools to encourage people to comply with public health messaging.
“While it is for each family to decide if they wish for their child to participate in the testing, it will be of benefit to all those in schools for us to be able to break the chain of transmission of the virus by identifying all those who may be asymptomatic.
“My Department will continue to engage with school leaders and teaching unions to address their queries and concerns and to provide support and guidance as we move to a full return of pupils.”
School meals and transport services will operate as normal for those schools and year groups where pupils are required to attend.