As schools prepare to reopen after the extended half-term break, the Education Minister has asked everyone to play their part in helping to keep them safe spaces for pupils and staff.

On Thursday, the Minister announced that the wearing of face coverings on all dedicated school buses and public transport will be mandatory for all post-primary children when schools reopen.

Peter Weir said: ”The transmission of COVID-19 within schools remains low and by taking some simple steps we can all make sure that continues. I know that the overwhelming desire of parents and carers is to maintain a full return to school and I thank them for all the sacrifices they are making in very difficult circumstances.

I am asking parents and carers not to congregate at school gates when they are dropping off their children.  Always practise good social distancing and wear a mask and try to avoid going beyond the school gate unless you have an appointment. If you need to speak to a teacher ring or email first.

“Try to ensure children have face coverings with them at all times and have a bag to store them. Encourage your child to practise good hand hygiene and advise them not to eat or share food on transport. 

“Parents/carers are at the heart of fighting the virus, and minimising any disruption to education, so your role in responsible action both at the school gates, and in ensuring that the whole family including children, abide by all the necessary health  restrictions are the difference between success and failure. With your help we can all protect the future education and wellbeing of our children.”

Concluding the Minister said that keeping schools open remains his key priority.

He said: “I know from speaking to parents, carers and teachers that they want their children to be in school.  Face to face teaching is the best form of educational provision.

“These are difficult times for us all.  As parents and carers you are naturally worried about the impact on your child’s well-being by not being in school.  Children and young people have missed so much this year already, not just in terms of learning but in socialising with their friends, taking part in sports and other activities.

“We are all in this together and we all must help and support each other through the challenging times which lie ahead. I want to thank all of you – parents, carers, young people, teachers and school staff for all your efforts.”

Notes to editors: 

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