Commenting on the latest announcement from the Department of Education, Koulla Yiasouma, Northern Ireland Commissioner said,
“The government’s responsibility to educate children applies whether schools are open or not and to that end work needs to be ongoing to assess how children are being educated at home, bearing in mind some parents are also working and some teachers are also parenting.
“I broadly welcome the Minister’s announcement with regards to the opening of schools and I look forward to seeing the detailed guidance that will provide clarity to schools, children and their parents. However, we cannot under-estimate the work that needs to be completed before the maximum number of children can return as safely as possible, whilst understanding that 100% safety cannot be guaranteed only every possible measure taken.
“This, and subsequent guidance, must be published following consultation with children, young people and parents and must ensure schools have dual emphasis on education recovery and the emotional well-being of children and young people.
“Whilst it will not be business as normal, it is important that our children are able to continue their education in a setting which is both safe and nurturing.
“Young people have told me they want to return to school, to see their friends and continue their education, but at the same time they are anxious about keeping their families safe and concerned about how much education they have missed.
“Whilst I welcome the announcement with regards to “summer provision”, it is difficult to make a further assessment until detailed plans are published with regards to how “vulnerable” children and children with Special Educational Needs, both in mainstream and special schools, will be accommodated.
“The safe and effective re-opening of our schools for all children will require a herculean effort from everyone involved in educating our children. They will only be successful if they work together and in partnership.”
Notes to Editors