December 31, 2020
Crucial that Education Minister plans for all contingencies – Mullan

Sinn Féin MLA Karen Mullan had said the Education Minister’s decision to delay the reopening of schools for at least a week is the right one given the current circumstances.

The party’s education spokesperson said:

“It is important this time is used wisely to develop contingency planning to ensure preparedness for every eventuality.

“Given the increased risk of transmissibility from the new variant of the virus it is essential the minister works in partnership with school communities and health authorities to ensure the safety of our school staff, pupils and their families. 

“The course of the pandemic is increasingly unpredictable and we are in a dangerous situation. It is not possible to know where we will be the week of the 11th in terms of the public health situation so it is crucial the minister uses this extra week to plan for every scenario. 

“This may involve bringing forward and expanding plans for remote learning.

“We need to see the minister work with colleagues in health and the PHA to enhance the system of track and trace in schools and to relieve this burden from principals.

“It is also important that in the event of scientific advice recommending further school closures that provision is put in place for the children of key workers and vulnerable children.

“The Minister must act urgently to cancel transfer testing due to take place in the coming weeks and look at alternative arrangements for post primary transfer. 

“He must also provide urgent clarity to GCSE students who are also scheduled to take exams in January. 

“Our priority in the time ahead must be to ensure the safety of our school communities and the continuity of learning for our children and young people.”

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