Dear Principal and Teachers,
As you all know the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD yesterday announced the closure of schools, pre-schools and further and higher education settings, for students, for a period until 29 March 2020, to support efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19. This is in line with the advice of the National Public Health Emergency Team. The Government, in conjunction with the public health authorities, will keep the situation under ongoing review. Any change to that date will be communicated as soon as it is known.
All pupils in schools are urged to practise social distancing, and to minimise physical contact with each other, to help avoid the spread of Covid-19. This should include minimising social contact, avoiding meeting up and keeping physical space between them. Parents and guardians are urged to support their children to maintain this approach.
This is an unprecedented situation and we are all conscious that in difficult times school communities come together to find solutions and always work in the best interest of their students. The Department is aware that schools have been actively engaging in contingency planning for an event such as this over the past few weeks.
In order to minimise the impact on teaching and learning all schools are asked to continue to plan lessons and, where possible, provide online resources for students or online lessons where schools are equipped to do so. Schools are asked to be conscious of students that may not have access to online facilities and to consider this actively in their response. School buildings should be available to staff if they wish to access the facilities in order to provide online delivery, or essential services once this is in line with HSE advice on social distancing etc.
In order to assist all schools to support students your attention is drawn to a range of online resources to assist schools to provide ongoing support to students during school closures.
Scoilnet https://www.scoilnet.ie/ is a resource to support schools, teachers, students and parents. Scoilnet has a number of home usage supports for teachers and students to benefit from. These are detailed on pages 3 and 4 in Appendices 1 and 2 attached. Scoilnet will be updating the material available on its website regularly.
In addition to the Scoilnet there are other resources available to schools. The Digital Technology team has developed a new dedicated webpage of curated content to support schools and teachers engaged in distance learning in order to provide continuity to pupils/students. The page can be accessed at:
Using some of the online platforms and/or tools that are detailed on this page, schools will be enabled to limit the impact of school closures by giving learners access to materials, support, classwork and feedback.
This is a very challenging time for schools, teachers, students and parents. It is critical that during these challenging times we continue to work together and that the focus of all is on the best possible outcomes for our students. The support of everyone across the sector is vital, as we all strive to ensure that this public health threat is dealt with as effectively as possible.
The Department of Education and Skills, and its various services, will remain available providing advice and supports to the education sector at this time.
Seán Ó Foghlú