IRISH SCHOOLCHILDREN may not be back in the classroom until close to Easter, a government source has indicated.
According to The Irish Times, Government sources have admitted that most children will not be back to school by March and most may not return until closer to Easter.
While the news may not be entirely unexpected-- Taoiseach Micheál Martin said at the weekend that not all students would be back by St Patrick's Day-- it will be a blow to parents and students who are struggling with home-schooling.
There are an estimated one million children in Ireland of school-going age, and while transmission rates of Covid-19 are dropping, it is still viewed as unsafe for a fifth of the population to be mixing in schools while the virus remains a high threat.
The Government's focus at the moment, Mr Martin said over the weekend, is to attempt to reopen special schools for children with additional needs; this could happen in February if transmission rates continue to fall.
The Taoiseach was speaking to Brendan O'Connor on RTÉ Radio when he said he hoped there would be an agreement on a return to special education "in the coming weeks", and promised a decision would be made on Leaving Certificate examinations soon.
The Irish Times reports that a Cabinet committee on Ireland's response to Covid-19 is due to receive new advice from public health experts on the subject of safely reopening schools soon.
A Cabinet meeting to discuss the advice and options will take place tomorrow, Tuesday 26 January.