Coronavirus Northern Ireland: NI schools to ‘remain open, for now’

Posted by
Monday, March 16th, 2020
Community, Coronavirus

Education Minister Peter Weir has today issued guidance to schools and other educational settings in Northern Ireland.

The guidance is intended to assist schools and other educational settings, including early years and youth, to provide advice for pupils, students, staff and parents or carers regarding COVID-19 (coronavirus).

Northern Ireland schools will ‘remain open, for now’ Education Minister Peter Weir said, adding that they will have to close in the future over Coronavirus.

Writing to school principals he said he would not be giving weight to popular opinion on social media, adding that he would follow expert clinical advice.



The Minister said, “The position on COVID-19 is exceptionally fast-moving and new developments are emerging on a daily basis.

“I fully understand the concerns of schools and parents and want to assure everyone that the Department of Education is working intensively with its education sector partners and with colleagues across the UK as well as the Department of Health (DoH), the Public Health Agency (PHA) on a full range of very complex issues with regard to COVID-19.

“As new information becomes available, and decisions are taken, this guidance will be urgently updated.



 “The Department has also instigated a range of contingency planning measures, including the establishment of a COVID-19 Education Planning Group to co-ordinate efforts across the education sector. 

 “This is not a step that I will take lightly or without careful consideration of the significant consequences.

“I understand the implications that school closures would have on a large number of parents being removed from their current jobs and instead staying at home to look after their children.



“Some of these will be doctors, nurses, police officers, paramedics and firefighters, the very people we need at this key moment in time to complete critical contingency planning for the weeks and months ahead.”

 The Minister added, “I thank all those working in all our school settings across Northern Ireland for their continued professionalism during these very challenging times.

Weir said information bulletins would be issued to schools twice a week and insisted that closing schools was not a step to be taken lightly “without due consideration to the significant consequences.”



Earlier today, Health Minister Robin Swann spoke of Covid-19 Coronavirus being “the greatest societal challenge since the Second World War.”

He said that all options were on the table to tackle the outbreak.


Keep up to date with all the latest Northern Ireland Coronavirus / Covid-19 news HERE


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