Education Minister: Irish schools will not reopen after Friday

By Aoife Moore

Additional reporting by Digital Desk staff

Schools across Ireland will not reopen after Friday.

Education Minister Joe McHugh says that although schools are closed up to March 29, they will not be opening immediately after that.

He added he hoped to have confirmation today or tomorrow of the extension of the school closures.

School closures in Northern Ireland are set to run into the summer.

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.

Minister McHugh has stated that the main focus of his department is having the state exams sit as normal in the June 3-23 period.

Last week it was announced the 2020 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.

Minister McHugh says his commitment is to ensure any further exams happen as normal.

“My commitment to the students and for the students who are maybe having their breakfast this morning and maybe getting ready to study and really, really putting in such an effort, my commitment to them, and the Department’s commitment is, we want to make those exams happen," he said.

“Obviously we are going to be influenced and directed by the health experts.

“We don’t know where we are going to be in terms of the peak of this virus.

“I think we owe it 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.”

Minister for Health Simon Harris speaking to the media on his way into Government Buildings. Photo: Leah Farrell/
Minister for Health Simon Harris speaking to the media on his way into Government Buildings. Photo: Leah Farrell/

The Health Minister says further restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of Covid-19 will be announced this afternoon.

The National Public Health Emergency team met this morning and has made a series of recommendations.

Cabinet Ministers are meeting now to discuss the advice, which is likely to impact on travel and social activity.

Speaking on the way into Government Buildings, Minister Simon Harris says there will also be an update on existing measures, including schools.

"There will be an update on all of the existing measures in place and, indeed, any new recommendations from the National Public Health Emergency team," he said.

"It's very important that today is seen in the context of the massive national effort that is underway, the huge sacrifices that the Irish people are making in trying to do the right thing, in trying to keep their family, their community and their country safe.

"What Government wants to do with our public health doctors is support that effort."

    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