NEU responded in detail to the draft Guidance and raised a number of concerns. The NI Education Minister has now published new guidance. An updated version of the New School Day guidance is now available and can be accessed here.
Whilst the document has been retitled (Coronavirus (COVID-19): Guidance for schools and educational settings in Northern Ireland), this edition of the guidance fully incorporates all of the measures and mitigations contained within previous versions of New School Day guidance. The new guidance has been restructured to reflect that schools have now re-opened and are moving to the delivery of education in our ‘new normal’.
Our main concern is that the wider reopening of schools set out in today's guidance goes well beyond the New School Day guidance published in June, and will force principals and teachers to again redraft and unpick physical changes which they have already laboured to put in place.
We are yet to be convinced that the complete and full time return for all pupils without social distancing is safe for pupils, school staff, or the family and community circles they mix with, and move in, outside of school.
We are also concerned at the lack of any additional resources or funding to deliver the plans.
NEU will continue to engage with the Department, employers, and stakeholders as constructively as we can but we make no apology for working to help ensure the health and safety of our members, their families and our schools as we continue to face the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.