This guidance has been developed for education settings to support a safe, phased reopening of schools in line with the Northern Ireland Executive’s “Coronavirus Executive Approach to Decision-Making” published on 12 May 2020.


It has been informed by advice provided by the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Advisor and the Executive’s agreement on 6 August 2020 that the stringent application of social distancing requirements between pupils would be relaxed from 17 August. 

It provides an overarching framework for how schools and education settings in Northern Ireland can operate in an ongoing COVID environment, with the aim of ensuring broad consistency and equity across local areas, but is sufficiently flexible to allow education settings and staff to adapt and adopt approaches that best suit their needs.

It has been developed as part of an overall Education Restart Programme, co-designed by the Department of Education, school leaders and key partners. Engagement has also taken place as part of an ongoing process with a consultation group comprising Managing Authorities, trades unions and sectoral support bodies that began in March 2020.

Summary of Key Scientific and Public Health Advice

To promote transparency with regard to the scientific, public health and wider policy judgements that have informed the approach set out in this guidance, the guidance links to relevant published scientific and public health advice.

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