Coronavirus – previous updates

Previous updates from the Department of Education and related bodies.

Updates from 4th November.

The Department of Education and Minister Weir have clarified the guidance around physical education within schools (indoors). You can read the full information at the link below:

https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/news/update-physical-education-schools

 


Updates from 30th October.

The Department of Education has announced that face coverings will be mandatory on all school transport for post primary children once schools re-open. This includes all buses, trains and taxis for the journey to and from school for pupils 13 and over. You can read the full statement here:

https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/news/face-coverings-be-mandatory-all-school-transport-post-primary-children

In addition, Minister Weir has welcomed funding of almost £64 million to help schools manage Education Authority pressures, COVID-19 pressures and for free school meals. you can read the full statement at this link:

https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/news/weir-welcomes-additional-funding-schools

 


Updates 24th and 25th September 2020

25th September – In response to feedback from schools, and following clarification with the Public Health Agency we can now advise that only when a positive case has been identified in child or young person do schools need to consider self-isolating close contacts of that individual. As a result section 8, paragraph 11 should be disregarded. Updated guidance will be issued shortly.

The Department of Education has released updated Guidance for School and Educational Settings in Northern Ireland (on 24th September). You can view this, and related documents, at the link below:

https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-school-and-educational-settings-northern-ireland 


Updates from 4th September 2020

The Department of Education has released a revised Management Flowchart for possible/confirmed Covid-19 case in schools. You can see it at the link below:

https://www.nicie.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/COVID-19-Management-Flow-Chart.pdf

This should be read with the New School Day guidance released on the 28th August (linked to below).


Updates from 28th August 2020

The Department of Education has published a further updated/revised guide on the “New School Day”. This is available on the Department website at the following link:

https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/publications/northern-ireland-re-opening-school-guidance-new-school-day-revised


Updates from 25th August 2020

Education Minister Peter Weir today announced that guidance on face coverings will be updated to include wearing them in corridors of post-primary schools. You can read more information here: https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/news/weir-updates-guidance-use-face-coverings-schools 

CCEA have released a consultation that all should be aware of, on proposed changes to GCSE and related exams for summer 2021. You can access the consultation here:

https://ccea.org.uk/news/2020/august/ccea-launches-consultation-proposed-changes-gcse-and-gce-qualifications-summer

The Education Minister Peter Weir is encouraging teachers, parents and students to respond to a consultation on proposed changes to examinations in summer 2021. You can read his full statement here:

https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/news/ccea-consultation-examinations-summer-2021 


Updates from 12th and 13th August 2020

On the 13th August the Department of Education published an updated/revised guide on the “New School Day”. This is available on the Department website at the following link and overrides previous published guidance: https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/publications/northern-ireland-re-opening-school-guidance-new-school-day-revised

In addition to this, the Minister for Education has released a letter to parents and carers on the reasoning behind the reopening of schools as well as guidance for them in regards to COVID-19. 

Letter to parents and carers available at this link

Checklist for parents and carers available at this link

The Department of Education has released updated guidance on their website for supporting staff to return to schools on the 12th August. You can find it at this link: https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/publications/guidance-supporting-staff-return-schools


Update from 6th August 2020

Education Minister Peter Weir said he wants all schools to return to more normal patterns of operation and attendance from the week beginning 31 August. Revised New School Day guidance will be published next week setting out an updated approach to the full reopening of schools rather than a phased approach. You can read his full letter at this link.

Update from 23rd July 2020

The Executive Office agreed further relaxations of restriction on the Coronavirus recovery pathway. Full details can be found on the Executive Office website here: https://www.executiveoffice-ni.gov.uk/news/statement-executive-decisions-23-july-2020 



Update from 17th July 2020

The Permanent Secretary, Derek Baker, has sent a letter to all principals regarding preparing for the 2020 influenza season along with a letter from the Chief Medical Examiner, Dr Michael McBride. Both highlight the importance of ensuring a high uptake of the flu vaccine, with the intention of extending the vaccine programme into year 8.

You can read the letter from Derek Baker at this link and from Dr Michael McBride here.


Update from 10th July 2020

The Department of Education have released two sets of guidance. One, an FAQ on supporting staff returning to the workplace, can be read at this link: https://www.nicie.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Frequently-Asked-Questions-Guidance-on-Supporting-Staff-to-Return-to-Sch.._.pdf 

The second, specific to support staff, can be read at this link: https://www.nicie.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Preparation-for-Schools-Reopening-Return-of-Support-Staff.pdf

You can find further information in support of these documents at the Department of Education website here https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/news/latest-department-education-updates-relation-covid-19-coronavirus as well as further down this page.

 



Update from 8th July 2020

Education Minister Peter Weir has announced that free wi-fi and mobile connectivity will be provided to children and young people who may not have had access to digital technology during lockdown. More information can be found at this link: https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/news/weir-announces-free-wi-fi-scheme-disadvantaged-pupils


Update from 3rd July 2020

The Department of Education has released additional guidance for the Foundation Stage within Primary Schools, which can be viewed on the department website here: https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/publications/northern-ireland-re-opening-school-guidance-additional-guidance-planning-foundation-stage-within


Update from 30 June 2020

Ministers announce that childcare is available to all parents. Ministers Robin Swann and Peter Weir have confirmed that the definition of key worker will no longer apply for access to childcare. 

The announcement follows the recent publication of the Childcare Sector Recovery Plan.

Education Minister Peter Weir said “This announcement will support more parents to access childcare.As schools begin to reopen it will be important to ensure that there is alignment between school restart plans and childcare provision so that the impact on working parents is kept to a minimum.”

More information can be found at the Department of Health website here:  https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/publications/covid-19-childcare-guidance 

In addition, a summer food scheme proposed by the Minister for Education, Peter Weir has been allocated £12 million in the June monitoring round process. The summer food scheme will provide help during July and August to families who were eligible for free school meals’ direct payments up to the end of June. Almost 57,000 families representing over 102,000 children will receive payments of £13.50 per child per week.

You can read full details on the Department of Education website here: https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/news/weir-welcomes-monitoring-round-allocations


Updates from the 23rd to the 26th June 2020

The Department of Education has released an important circular that has been sent to all principals and education bodies on the 24th June, which aims to provide guidance and support for schools as they design their curriculum for 2020/21. It is available on the Department of Education website at https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/publications as well as here.

Education Minister Peter Weir also published guidance on the 19th June setting out how schools should plan for the new school day. You can read his full statement at this link: https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/news/weir-publishes-guidance-new-school-day

Please see this link for full details: https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/publications/northern-ireland-re-opening-school-guidance-new-school-day

On the 23rd June a pre-school supplementary was also published as part of the overall guidance, which can be viewed via this link: https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/publications/northern-ireland-re-opening-school-guidance-new-school-day-pre-school-education-supplementary

You can also find FAQs on the Education Restart Programme at this link https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/faqs-education-restart-programme-24-june-2020 and FAQs on the childcare discovery plan at this link https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/faqs-childcare-recovery-plans-24-june-2020 both of which were published on the 24th June.

Further guidance was released on the 26th June for the re-opening of Special Schools, which can be viewed ta this link: https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/publications/northern-ireland-re-opening-school-guidance-special-schools

Finally, guidance on supporting staff to return to school was also published on the 26th June. You can read this in full at this link: https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/publications/guidance-supporting-staff-return-schools


Update on the 19th June 2020

Education Minister Peter Weir has today published new guidance setting out how schools should plan for the new school day. You can read his full statement at this link: https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/news/weir-publishes-guidance-new-school-day

The full guidance, linked to below, “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.”

Please see this link for full details: https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/publications/northern-ireland-re-opening-school-guidance-new-school-day

***Update on the 18th June 2020***

The Department of Education and Minister Weir released a number of key updates on the 18th June. This can be viewed in detail on the Department o Education website here https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/.

In brief, Education Minister Peter Weir has outlined plans to help support vulnerable children and young people in July and August.

The proposals include:

  • special schools summer provision;
  • youth services with priority given to key worker children; and
  • plans for a summer food scheme.

Full details at this link: https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/news/weir-outlines-proposals-support-vulnerable-children-and-young-people-summer

Minister Weir has also said that new guidance setting out how schools should plan for the new school day will be published. You can read the full statement here: https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/news/weir-sets-out-plans-reopening-schools

The Minister has also announced the publication of a Childcare Sector Recovery plan.

The plan, published by the Executive, aims to restore the childcare sector to pre-Covid-19 capacity levels as quickly as possible. The plan will ensure that parents can access childcare, as and when they need it, over the next few months.

Full details can be found here: https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/news/education-minister-announces-publication-childcare-recovery-plan

 



Update on 5th June.

The Department of Education has released guidance to support Safe Working in Educational Settings in Northern Ireland which can be viewed here.

In addition, guidance for schools on supporting remote learning to provide educational continuity has also been issued by the department. You can read the letter issued to principals today here and the detailed guidance can be found here.


Update on 4th June.

Vocational and Technical Qualifications

You can find advice on alternative awarding arrangements here.


Update on the 3rd June.

DE Guidance – School Development Planning 2020/21

The Department of Education has provided guidance to Boards of Governors and schools on school development planning for 2020/21, in the context of the Covid-19 outbreak. The guidance is available on the DE website:

https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/node/44628


Update on the 21st and 22nd May.

Minister Weir outlines plans to provide digital devices to disadvantaged children

Proposals to lend digital devices to school children have been outlined by Education Minister, Peter Weir.

During the current Covid-19 pandemic, schools have been closed except for vulnerable children and the children of key workers. Teachers have continued educating pupils through remote learning. You can read more information on the department website here and the full letter directed to schools here.

You can also find a detailed statement from the Education Minister to the Ad Hoc Committee at the department website here.


Update on the 20th May.

Guidance to schools on Assessment and school reports

The Minister has agreed to significantly reduce the prescribed reporting
requirements and provide a temporary legislative basis that will enable
principals to decide the content and format of reports. You can read more information here


Update on 19th May.

Income Support Scheme for substitute teachers

Education Minister Peter Weir has announced a scheme to help support substitute teachers during the Covid-19 crisis. Substitute teachers have been unable to access secure work as schools are closed except for vulnerable children and those of key workers. You can read more here.

Executive Daily Update: Initiatives to deal with Coronavirus (18 May 2020)

Northern Ireland Executive ministers and their officials have over the past 72 hours been involved in a number of initiatives and critical decisions relating to the Coronavirus emergency.

Socially distanced gatherings of up to six people will be permitted and places of worship can be reopened for acts of individual prayer under the latest round of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions to be lifted by Ministers.
Read more here

 


Update on the 15th May

Covid-19 childcare sector support scheme open.

Following the joint announcement by Education Minister Peter Weir and Health Minister Robin Swann of a £12m package of measures to support the childcare sector, the scheme is now open to eligible childcare providers.You can find full information here: https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/news/covid-19-childcare-sector-support-scheme-open

Safer Schools App.

The Department of Education Northern Ireland ‘Safer Schools’ digital safeguarding app is available, for the first time, to children and young people in Northern Ireland. More information can be found here: https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/news/safer-schools-app-launched-children-and-young-people

 



Update on the 27th April

COVID-19 Testing: Testing is available for principals, teaching, non-teaching and support staff in schools that are currently open or intend to open for vulnerable children and children of key workers if you meet criteria as set out in the guidance available here: https://www.publichealth.hscni.net/covid-19-coronavirus/coronavirus-national-testing-programme-key-workers

A map of school’s open for supervised learning, provided by the Education Authority, can be found here: https://eani.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=29955f42f6cd4a14a071d6d3dede8003

The Minister launched the Department of Education’s app on the Safer Schools
platform which has been provided by iNEQE Safeguarding Group on a trial basis
during this COVID-19 crisis on the 10th April. You can find information on it here

In addition to the call for volunteers to support schools during this ongoing COVID-19 situation (see updates below) you can find an online application form if you are interested: http://apps.education-ni.gov.uk/appc19vol/default.aspx 

The Minister for Education also updated their guidance on support for Vulnerable Children and Young People on the 10th April. This is a more in depth guide than previously released: https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/publications/guidance-vulnerable-children-and-young-people-10-april-2020

The Education Authority website also holds useful information for parents and schools alike, and is constantly updated: https://www.eani.org.uk/school-management/health-safety/covid-19-coronavirus

The EA website especially has information for “Key Workers” who need to find a place for their child/children in a school during this period: https://www.eani.org.uk/key-workers including an application form that can be accessed via this link for parents/guardians to request supervised learning for children where their normal school isn’t open.

The Department of Education had previously released an updated FAQ for schools opening for children of “Key Workers”: https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/faqs-schools-opening-children-key-workers-24-march-2020

There is also a fully comprehensive FAQ available at the Education Authority website as well, covering issues from transport to free school meals: https://www.eani.org.uk/covid-19-questions-and-answers



Update on the 8th April 2020

The Minister of Education has provided an update on the continued provision of education for vulnerable children and young people, including an expanded definition of this group. You can read the full letter here


Update on 6th April 2020

The Minister for Education has released a letter today asking for more volunteers to support the schools that are remaining open to support vulnerable children and those of key and essential workers. This call has gone out to retired teachers and classroom assistants as well as organisations such as NICIE. You can read the letter in full here.

The Department of Education has also published updated guidance on social distancing in education settings. This can be read here.



Update on 3rd April 2020

The minister for Education has today sent out a letter regarding schools staying open for vulnerable children and those of key workers. You can read the letter here.

Further to the 1st April update, the Department of Education has provided further details on “Clustering”. They have provided the following:

“As an initial step the Department would be grateful if schools interested in a cluster arrangement or those already involved in a cluster arrangement could send confirmation by email to C19clusters@education-ni.gov.uk by 12 noon 3 April 2020.”

There will be further communication soon on the “clustering” including links to an Expression of Interest form and further guidance.


Update on 1st April 2020

The Minister for Education and Department of Education have released guidance to schools on “clustering”. This is to ensure there “are sustainable arrangements and sufficient places for vulnerable children and the children of key workers during the Covid-19 crisis”. You can read the full details behind this on the Department of Education website here and the guidance for schools here.

You can also find information on schools that are open to support vulnerable children and those of key workers, as of the 30th March 2020, at the Department of Education website as well at this link.

 

Update from 30th March 2020

Minister for Education, Peter Weir MLA, has today sent out a letter to all principals

Minister Weir also put out a call for support in schools that are staying open to accommodate the children of key workers on the evening of the 27th March. This is important to support both the teaching and non-teaching staff in those schools who are staying open. You can read his full letter here. The Minister and Department of Education have also provided updated guidance on this call here.

And if you are able to help support our wonderful school staff you can find an application form here.



Update from 27th March 2020

You can read the most recent release from the Minister for Education, Peter Weir MLA, via the Department of Education here as well as updated FAQs for schools that are opening for children of key/critical workers. 

 


Update from 23rd March 2020

The Education Authority website continues to provide guidance in one place at the link below, including information on “key workers” and updates from the Department of Education:

https://www.eani.org.uk/school-management/health-safety/coronavirus-covid-19


Update from the 20th March 2020

Further to the announcement of school closures from end of the school day on the 20th March (made on the 18th March – see our update below) the Minister of Education released a detailed statement on the 19th. You can read the information here:

https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/news/letter-minister-education-education-sector


Update from the 19th March 2020

With the announcement by the First Minister Arlene Foster that schools will be closed from the end of this week (last day 20th March 2020) we will continue to update information for all schools as we receive it.

The announcement was covered in the press and you can read the BBC report here.

There is a clear message on the closures on the Education Authority website (from the Department of Education): https://www.eani.org.uk/parents/school-closures 

Sara Long and Gerry Campbell from the EA also issued this letter to all principals, before the closures were announced. While it doesn’t reference the school closures it does refer to the Department of Education issuing updated guidance.

We at NICIE appreciate that the guidance from the Department of Education and elsewhere has changed, and may not be as updated as everyone would like but we will do our best to update this page and our social media channels as and when more information is made available.

In the interim, please continue to refer to guidance on the Department of Education website which will be updated by them: https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/

The Education Authority continues to hold detailed information as well, including links to other statutory bodies: https://www.eani.org.uk/ 


Update from the 16th March 2020

With the current situation ever changing we are sharing the advice from the Department of Education regarding COVID-19.

All schools should have received a letter from the Education Minister Peter Weir on the 16th March along with “Guidance to Educational Settings in Northern Ireland”. Please note that this will change as the situation changes, and is issued by the Department of Education and not NICIE. The document provides advice and guidance on a range of issues associated with the ongoing pandemic, including travel related to schools (trips abroad), advice on actions to be taken if staff or pupils contract COVID-19 and limiting the spread of the virus.

Full details can be found online as well here https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/news/education-minister-issues-covid-19-guidance-educational-settings

In regards to all the advice and guidance, the Department of Education has been clear that it will  “…continue to follow the expert medical and scientific advice from the Chief Medical Officer, Public Health Agency and the UK Government and Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).”

The Education Authority has provided guidance on absence here: https://www.eani.org.uk/sites/default/files/2020-03/GUIDANCE%20ON%20ABSENCE%20RELATING%20TO%20CORONAVIRUS%20-%20DELAY%20PHASE%20-%20FINAL.pdf and general advice and guidance here: https://www.eani.org.uk/school-management/health-safety/coronavirus-covid-19 

You can also find up to date guidance from the Public Health Agency at https://www.publichealth.hscni.net/news/covid-19-coronavirus, advice on travel from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus