Government examining ways to help those with special needs return to school over summer

The Government is examining ways to help those with special needs return to school over the summer.

Schools are not due to reopen until September under current plans to lift Covid-19 restrictions.

However, the Taoiseach says he is concerned about children with autism, intellectual disability or behavioural problems.

Leo Varadkar says they are looking at specific measures to address their needs.

“One thing we’d like to do before September is something around what they call July Prevision,” he said.

Mr Vardakar said this is “some summer education dedicated towards those groups of kids with the highest needs.

“And if we do anything before September, it’s going to be in that space. We want to get it right too.”

Earlier today, Mr Varadkar told Newstalk it is not the Government’s intention to re-open schools ahead of September.

“The Department of Education and the teachers’ unions and all the partners in education are examining that and looking at what’s happening in other countries and seeing how we’re going to open the schools in a practical way, and a safe way in September.”

Meanwhile, the general secretary of the Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO), John Boyle has said that it is unlikely that schools will reopen in June.

Getting children back to school in September will be a “mammoth planning task” he told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.

"With 20 school days to go before the summer break, it would be very difficult for schools to reopen, even on a phased basis."

Mr Boyle warned that it may not be possible for all children to return at the same time in September as there will be logistical issues-particularly in rural Ireland where many children travel to school by bus.