All pupils in all schools returned on 1 September 2021 following the summer holidays. It was announced on 12 August 2021 that schools will no longer be required to use formal bubbles following an agreement by the Executive. In addition young people aged 5 to 17 who are not fully vaccinated and are identified as a close contact should self-isolate and book a PCR test. If the PCR test result is negative they can end their self-isolation.
Notice No. 37 makes modifications to Article 58(1)(a) and (5)(a) of the Education and Libraries (NI) Order 1986. The modifications are necessary to enable the Education Authority (EA) and individual voluntary grammar (VG) and grant-maintained integrated (GMI) schools to provide food parcels for collection/delivery to pupils entitled to free school meals (FSM) who are unable to attend school for 10 days or more due to Covid-19 and wish such provision. It is in line with Notice No 36 in that it also applies to a small number of pupils who have been identified as a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case and they have not taken a PCR test and therefore must self-isolate for 10 days.
The Notice applies to those children who are -
(a) diagnosed with a medical condition or illness (or in extreme circumstances their parent has a significant underlying medical condition) and who -
(i) 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;
(ii) can demonstrate evidence that they are being educated, or otherwise engaging in learning, whilst not in attendance at school;
(b) self-isolating as a consequence of their own positive test for coronavirus disease;
(c) pupils who have been advised by the Public Health Agency that they should not attend school on the basis of having been identified as a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case and they have not taken a PCR test.
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.