IRELAND'S schools have been forced to stay shut for much of the past few months due to Covid-19, but with the vaccination programme well underway and after weeks of strict lockdown measures, schools are set to open their doors again.
The Irish government announced that the reopening of schools is one of its top priorities now, and that they'd reopen on a 'phased basis' over the coming weeks.
But which students will be going back first and how will it all work? Here's what we know so far:
Special education schools have already started to reopen. Last Thursday, schools dedicated to students with special needs opened their doors again, but for the time being will operate at 50% capacity.
From February 22, students with special needs who attend regular schools will be allowed to return, meaning that an estimated 3,000 schools will be resuming classes.
Last week, the Taoiseach said this would need to be closely monitored.
Martin said: "This is going to be a different type of reopening because of the variant and the fact that it’s now in up to 70 per cent of cases and I know public health are concerned they’re cautious.
"They want to measure this in terms of the wider impact on the spread of the virus.
"Schools are safe and controlled environments, but it’s that wider impact of so many people on the move at one time."
The plan is subject to change due to the ever changing nature of the Covid-19 crisis, but primary schools are expected to begin reopening from March 1.
Again, this will be done on a phased basis, and may include students coming to class on alternate days.
No exact date has been set for secondary school to reopen, but if all goes to plan with primary schools, then secondary schools will be expected to resume classes from mid-March.
Leaving Cert students
It has been reported that Leaving Cert students will be returning to school during the week of February 22.
Education Minister Foley has said that she hopes to give clarity to Leaving Certificate students on plans "in the coming days".
Confidential talks have been taking place over the past week between all stakeholders and Government ministers.
Plans for this year's Leaving Certificate have not been finalised but it is understood that the Government has explored a model where students would be able to choose between calculated grades and being able to sit the exams in June.