Education Restart - Information for Parents and Carers

The Minister of Education, Peter Weir MLA, has written to all parents and carers to outline some of the key information about the return to school. 

The Chief Medical Officer, Dr Michael McBride, has written to all parents and carers to outline actions which should be taken by parents and carers if their children develop Covid-19 symptoms.

A leaflet is also available for parents and carers with advice on the steps to take if a child or anyone they live with develops symptoms.  The information contained in the leaflet includes the actions to be taken if: a child develops Covid-19 symptoms; a child is tested positive for Covid-19; another household member has Covid-19 symptoms; another household member tests positive for Covid-19 symptoms.

A leaflet is also available for parents and carers which outlines some of the things you will need to think about when your child returns to school.

    If you have a specific concern or question about a particular issue relating to your child's educational setting you should, in the first instance, make contact directly with the school Principal, Leader, Management Committee or the Board of Governors.

    Information for children and young people

    Alternative awarding arrangements 2021

    On 2 February 2021, Education Minister Peter Weir made a statement to the NI Assembly outlining arrangements for awarding CCEA qualifications this summer.

    This includes arrangements for GCSE, AS, A level, Occupational Studies and CCEA Entry Level and vocationally related qualifications.

    Minister’s statement to NI Assembly - 2 February 2021

    Further information

    The Department has produced a range of leaflets and guidance for parents, pupils and schools on this year’s alternative awarding arrangements.

    Home to School Transport 

    Many parents and carers will want to personally transport your children to school. 

    You should encourage your child to use other means of travelling to school for example, walking or cycling where it is safe and reasonable to do so.  Howver, for many children the home to school transport network may be the only available option. 

    Pupils on all buses should always seek to maintain a social distance from others wherever possible, however the guidance for public transport on social distancing will not apply on dedicated school transport in the new school year.

    The wearing of face coverings on all dedicated school buses and public transport is now mandatory for all post-primary children and it is strongly recommended that all pupils should wear a face covering on any form of home to school transport where it is appropriate for them to do so. Pupils should bring a plastic bag for storing their face covering if they have used one on home to school transport. You are asked to ensure that your child(ren) clean their hands before boarding any home to school transport vehicle.

    Where capacity on a vehicle allows for additional space to be put between pupils, that should be done, however it is recognised that this will not always be possible. Where it is not possible, other measures to protect pupils will be implemented.

     Further details will be available on the Education Authority's website.

    Pupils using public transport services that are also used by members of the public will continue to adhere to social distancing guidelines for the general public.

    School Meals 

    The Summer Food Payment scheme will end on 31 August 2020 and school meals will be available in schools from 1 September 2020. It is expected that where possible a hot meal will be available for those entitled to free school meals and any other pupils who wish to avail of them.

    Free School Meals will continue to be provided to eligible pupils.

    Packed lunches will continue to be allowed.

    School Uniform

    The wearing of a school uniform is not governed by legislation but falls to schools to determine. The Department has issued guidance to schools in developing their uniform policies which encourages schools to consider the views of parents, pupils and the school community.

    The Department would encourage schools to show flexibility around the issue of school uniforms in these extraordinary times.

    Financial assistance is available through the Education Authority’s Clothing Allowance Scheme for eligible pupils at grant-aided primary and post-primary schools, or day pupils at special schools, towards the cost of school uniforms and appropriate clothing suitable for PE.  The eligibility criteria is similar to those used for free school meals.

    Uniform Grant Applications 2020/21

    The issue of uniforms was considered and advice issued as part of the New School Day guidance.  The guidance states that while Coronavirus can land on fabrics and remain for some time, schools are not a high risk environment and while all children and young people should be encouraged to wear clean uniform or fresh clothes each day, this is not essential.

    Childcare

    It is recognised that the provision of childcare is of the utmost importance to enable parents to return to work.

    With effect from 29 June 2020, as part of the Covid-19 Childcare Recovery Plan, there will no longer be a key worker definition for the purposes of childcare.  This will allow parents who are returning to work to access childcare if they require it. 

    Parents should check the Family Support NI website for childcare available in their area.

    Education Maintenance Allowance

    Should a student decide to stay on at school or go to college they may qualify for Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA). EMA is a fortnightly payment of £60 for students who are aged 16, 17, 18 or 19 years.

    Education Maintenance Allowance Application 

    Youth Restart 

    The Education Authority has published a number of documents on processes for youth groups and clubs on restarting youth services.   The Education Authority’s Youth Online site, designed to connect with children and young also provides information on youth services, including restarting of services.

    Frequently Asked Questions are also available. 

    For information on local clubs and groups, contact the relevant club or group.

    Resources 

    The Department has published a list of resources that you may find useful as you assist your child with learning. 

    Tips for parents on how to help your child with their education are also available. 

    Information and advice for parents on pupil attendance is available.

    The Education Authority has published resources for parents and schools. 

    CCEA have published information to help parents understand the Northern Ireland Curriculum and support learning at home.

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