Northern Ireland Re-opening School Guidance - Special Schools

Date published: 26 June 2020

This guidance has been developed for special school education settings, to support a safe, phased reopening of special school education settings in line with the Northern Ireland Executive's "Coronavirus Executive Approach to Decision-Making” published on 12 May 2020. It should be read within the context of the overarching guidance "Northern Ireland Re-opening School Guidance - New School Day"


The guidance is additional guidance for special school education settings, to be read alongside the overarching Northern Ireland Re-opening School Guidance - New School Day.

Public health advice at the time of school opening will always prevail over the aspirational planning assumptions made within this guidance.

The guidance, part of an overall Restart Programme, has been co designed by the Department of Education, special school leaders and key partners. It has been informed by judgments based on the scientific and public health advice available at the time of writing and should be read and applied in conjunction with the latest public health guidance available here. Given the changing scientific and public health environment we're all in, this guidance will change in line with the latest advice and as such should be treated as 'agile' guidance.

The Department has asked that children at Special Schools should be able to attend school from 24 August where possible. However, the Department understands that for some Special Schools that will be challenging as they prepare for Restart and also plan for summer provision.

The number of learners any one school can accommodate will differ from school to school. Capacity will depend on a number of factors including: layout of rooms, number and size of larger shared rooms (such as halls and canteens) and available outdoor space.

In order to ensure as many children and young people as possible are actively transitioning back to on-site education in special schools, flexible approaches taken by individual schools are to be encouraged.

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