Coronavirus: More than 220 NI schools to open at Easter

By Robbie Meredith
BBC News NI Education Correspondent

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image captionChildren of key workers can attend school if necessary

More than 220 schools have said they are prepared to open at Easter for the children of key workers and vulnerable children.

That is according to data released by the Department of Education (DE).

Education Minister Peter Weir had previously said some schools would need to open over Easter to admit children.

When asked, 126 schools also told the department they were willing to open at weekends.

Most pupils are being taught remotely, but the children of key workers and vulnerable children can receive care in school if necessary.

Mr Weir had appealed to parents only to send their children to school as a "last resort".

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image captionEducation Minister Peter Weir

That appears to be the case so far, as the numbers of pupils up to the end of year 10 attending school has been small.

Most children are being taught remotely, but the children of key workers and vulnerable children can receive care in school if necessary.

Information provided by the department to principals on Thursday showed that 800 children had attended school on Wednesday 1 April.

A total of 442 schools across Northern Ireland were open to admit those children, while 226 schools told the department they were prepared to open at Easter.

Rota basis

Almost 400 schools said they would accept volunteers if necessary and 390 said they would be prepared to work together as "cluster schools."

A "cluster school" is a school that would remain open in an area but care for pupils from a number of other schools too.

Principals and senior teachers from the area would be in charge of running the school, and staff from a number of schools could work in it on a rota basis to care for children.

The department has produced guidance on how cluster schools should operate, and it has now asked principals to formally register their interest in operating one by 1200 BST on Friday 3 April.

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