As part of the Northern Ireland Executive’s measures to reduce the current rising incidence or transmission of coronavirus the Minister of Education announced on 5 January 2021 that 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.
Owing to the incidence or transmission of Coronavirus it might not be possible for some pupils who are entitled to free school meals to be in attendance at special schools: it is the Department’s assessment that this scenario will likely continue for some time. It is felt, therefore, in order to ensure that these children are not disadvantaged due to reasons beyond their control and specifically connected to the Coronavirus that alternative provision should be set in place to ensure some form of sustenance for the duration of the period in which they are prevented from being at school, if they wish to avail of it.
The descriptions of pupils mentioned in sub-paragraph (1) are those children who are-
- diagnosed with a medical condition or illness (or in extreme circumstances their parent has a significant underlying medical condition) and who, despite their absence from school, are registered by the school as being in attendance on the basis of medical advice that owing to their medical condition or illness (or in extreme circumstances their parent’s significant underlying medical condition), it is medically unsafe to be in attendance at school;
- self-isolating as a consequence of their own positive test for coronavirus disease;
- self-isolating as a consequence of a positive test for coronavirus disease of a member of their household;
- required by the school, on the advice of the Public Health Agency, not to attend school;
(e) considered by their parent(s)/ guardian, on the basis of an underlying medical or other condition or illness, to be at a perceived heightened risk of contracting coronavirus disease and / or if so contracted, at a greater risk of suffering complications from same, regardless of formal diagnosis or medical advice, resulting in their absence from school [with the express agreement of the School Principal] even though they are registered by the school as being in attendance.
(3). For the purposes of calculating the 10 calendar days mentioned in sub-paragraph (1), the day in which any pupil is sent home from school shall be included in the calculation period.
Under paragraph 17 of Schedule 17 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 the Department is required to publish the notice and to take steps as the Department considers reasonable to bring the notice to the attention of those likely to be affected by it.