Schools, universities to remain shut until after Easter holidays

Schools, universities to remain shut until after Easter holidays
A sign outside Trinity College Dublin which is closed due to the coronavirus. Schools and universities will not reopen until after the Easter holidays, the Government said yesterday. Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Schools and universities will not reopen until after the Easter holidays, the Government has said.

The Government confirmed that all guidelines on closures will be extended, with the hope that schools will reopen in May or June.

Educational institutions, including schools and creches, were closed almost two weeks ago after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was advised by top medical officers that it would be essential in limiting the spread of coronavirus.

The main focus of the Department of Education is having the State exams sit as normal in the June 3-23 period. The department is “working on contingency plans” if it is not possible for the exams to sit as normal, and the Government says it is doing everything possible so the Leaving Certificate and Junior Certificate exams can go ahead.

“Obviously we’re all hoping that schools may be able to come back in May or June and the Leaving Cert can go ahead so that group of young people can start college as normal in September and I would encourage all those students to study for the exams as there is a good chance that they will happen,” said the Taoiseach.

Education Minister Joe McHugh said his department is committed to making sure the exams go ahead.

“Obviously we are going to be influenced and directed by the health experts,” he said. “We don’t know where we are going to be in terms of the peak of this virus.

I think we owe it to those young people who are studying and putting in the effort to see this through to try to have these exams this year.

“When I say ‘this year’ I mean the dates that are defined for this year. That’s what we are working towards.”

Last week, it was announced that the Leaving Cert and Junior Cert oral and practical examinations had been cancelled, and all students who had been due to take the tests would be awarded full marks for that portion of the module.

Universities, as semi-autonomous facilities, will take some guidance from the Government but will make their own arrangements in terms of exams.

    Useful information
  • The HSE have developed an information pack on how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. Read it here
  • Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who has been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days should isolate themselves from other people - this means going into a different, well-ventilated room alone, with a phone; phone their GP, or emergency department;
  • GPs Out of Hours services are not in a position to order testing for patients with normal cold and flu-like symptoms. HSELive is an information line and similarly not in a position to order testing for members of the public. The public is asked to reserve 112/999 for medical emergencies at all times.
  • ALONE has launched a national support line and additional supports for older people who have concerns or are facing difficulties relating to the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Ireland. The support line will be open seven days a week, 8am-8pm, by calling 0818 222 024

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