Schools will close for most students until February 1, other new restrictions announced 1 week ago

Schools will close for most students until February 1, other new restrictions announced

The Taoiseach addressed the nation today.

Schools in Ireland will close until at least February 1, but Leaving Cert students will be able to attend classes three days a week.

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Under new restrictions announced by the government today, the majority of primary and secondary school students will remain home until at least next month. Provisions will be made for special education and specialised settings such as high support special care schools and youth encounter projects, which will continue fully open.

Leaving Certificate students can attend school for three days a week commencing from the week beginning January 11.

Childcare services will remain closed with the exception of services for vulnerable children and children of essential workers. A household of an essential worker can form a bubble with another household for childcare purposes.

Travellers arriving from the UK and South Africa will also be required to present a negative PCR test for Covid-19 before entering the country. A travel ban from these countries has also been extended until the weekend.  Other countries are expected to be added to this list in due time.

As well as this, non-essential construction will stop at 6pm this evening and click-and-collect services from retailers will be banned and replaced by delivery. Items pre-orders before today can still be collected.

There are no visitors or gatherings permitted in or outside the home and all religious services will be held online. Exercise will still be restricted to a 5km radius.

Martin called the shutting of schools to non-Leaving Cert students a "difficult decision."

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“Education is the great equaliser and it’s the single most important factor in the great progress that this country has made since its foundation,” he said.

"There’s a big difference between 61,000 people coming in in a staggered way, 61,000 Leaving Cert students, as opposed to one million people, which would involved the entire population of teachers and students.

“We know from last year the huge difficulty in terms of developing an alternative to the Leaving Certificate, and its importance for this generation of students.”

A full list of new restrictions can be found here.