Special schools will reopen from the 11th February, with classes in mainstream schools for pupils with special needs will reopen on Monday, 22nd February.

An agreement was finally reached yesterday evening by the Department of Education with Fórsa and INTO, the two trade unions who represent special needs assistants (SNAs).

The plans now mean that special schools will reopen at a 50% capacity on 11 February. Special classes based within mainstream schools will reopen for all students on 22 February.

The plans with information regarding the reopening of these special education settings is to be circulated to schools today. It is believed significantly enhanced safety measures will be put in place for students and staff.

Measures will include PPE equipment, a limit of the number of people in classrooms at any one time and provisions for SNAs and teachers who are in the high-risk category should they contract Covid-19.

Talks remain ongoing for reopening of the rest of schools across the country.

The news of the reopening of special education settings will no doubt delight parents of kids with special needs who have been left to fend in the most part by themselves. For these children, school is an essential life-support and service. A lack of routine can cause children to regress and lose basic life skills that have taken years to build up.

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