Leo Varadkar: Schools likely to reopen on a phased basis in February and early March 1 month ago

Leo Varadkar: Schools likely to reopen on a phased basis in February and early March

"It does have to be done by agreement."

Schools will reopen on a phased basis in February and early March, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said.

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Speaking on Claire Byrne Live on Monday night, Varadkar said the reopening would begin with the return of children with additional needs and would then be followed by primary schools and exam years.

However, he said any decision would be made in consultation with all educational partners.

“We want to discuss this with principals, unions, parents and students groups," he said.

"It does have to be done by agreement, but we are very keen to start with children with additional needs, they need their education and some of them are regressing now which is very worrying."

Varadkar said the government did not want to open the schools in "one big bang" but rather a phased basis because new variants of Covid-19 had proved to be more transmissible.

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He said he is confident the numbers of cases will reduce sufficiently in the middle of February for schools to reopen.

"Case numbers are halving every ten days so it is reasonable that in 20 days' time it could be down to 400, but because of the new variant being more transmissible we want to open schools on a phased basis," he said.

On Tuesday, Taoiseach Micheál Martin confirmed Ireland would remain in Level 5 restrictions until 5 March.