Return to full time schooling in North planned as social distance measures reduced

First Minister Arlene Foster said the move would enable the majority of primary and secondary schools in the region to operate “close to normality”.
Return to full time schooling in North planned as social distance measures reduced
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Most pupils are set for a return to full-time education in Northern Ireland in the autumn, after ministers agreed to cut the social distancing measure to 1m.

First Minister Arlene Foster said the move would enable the majority of primary and secondary schools in the region to operate “close to normality”.

While pupils will be required to keep one metre apart, the social distancing measure will remain at two metres for teachers, ministers in the powersharing executive have decided.

Schools have been closed in Northern Ireland since March. The traditional summer term would normally finish at the end of June in the region.

Teachers will now return to school on August 17. Key year groups – seven, 12 and 14 – will return a week later on August 24. The rest of the school population will go back to class at the start of September.

All primary school children, and secondary school children in younger year groups, will have to remain in protective bubbles limited to their own classes when they return.

The announcement was one of a series of lockdown relaxations announced by the executive on Thursday.

Graham Gault, a principal of a primary school in Co Antrim, says he still has some things he needs to get cleared-up, however.

"Adults will still have to maintain a 2m social distance from other adults so we do have a lot of questions about how we are going to manage our own safety as well as for the kids," Mr Gault said.

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